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  • Are you looking for ways to teach forces? If you’re new to the Science Learning Hub, you may want to start with our introductory video on teaching physics.

    Help, I’m teaching physics

    Discover different ways to locate physics content within the Hub.

    Use the links below to explore the Science Learning Hub resources related to forces and movement in the Physical World strand of the New Zealand Curriculum. We have resources for early years and the middle years and up.

    We also have a range of collections ready to use and customise for your own teaching requirements.

    Resources for the early years

    The following resources provide hands-on opportunities for exploring force and movement. All of the activities are supported by science articles – check the related content section at the bottom of each page.

    Explore the big ideas that underpin forces and their effects on whether an object floats or sinks in Building Science Concepts: Floating and sinking. Get hands-on with the activities Investigating floating and sinking and Floating and sinking – exploring forces. Both activities use play and exploration to directly observe force and movement as it pertains to floating.

    Explore forces under the Earth with Calderas in the sandpit, Tsunamis in the sandpit and Tectonic sandwiches.

    Create and use a pūrerehua (or pūrorohū) – a Māori musical instrument – to investigate the link between movement and sound.

    Explore magnetism (and thinking like scientists) with a set of simple activities.

    Modelling a caldera formation

    Use a balloon, which represents an exploding magma chamber, to model a caldera formation.

    Resources for the middle years and up

    The following resources provide hands-on learning opportunities for students in the middle years to junior secondary.

    Cycling aerodynamics

    Our collection of resources on cycling aerodynamics is a great opportunity to look at forces and speed in relation to cycling and think about how these might be measured and how one affects the other.

    I’m looking at how we can reduce pressure drag with different position and using different types of helmets and also reduce the skin friction drag by using different skinsuits.

    Lindsay Underwood
    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Forward and opposing forces

    Your forward force comes from pushing and pulling on the pedals to make the back tyre push backwards against the road. The two main forces that oppose your motion are aerodynamic drag (air resistance) and rolling resistance of the tyres against the road.


    There are extreme physical forces that move the ground we live on. Fortunately, New Zealand engineers find ways to accommodate these movements to prevent damage to key buildings.

    • Faults – fractures in the Earth’s crust where the rock mass on either side is displaced.
    • Plate tectonics – movement between these plates is responsible for geologic activity.
    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Seismic waves

    When an earthquake occurs shockwaves of energy, called seismic waves, are released from the earthquake focus. They shake the Earth and temporarily turn soft deposits, such as clay, into jelly (liquefaction).


    Flight explores the physics fundamentals of gravity, lift, drag and thrust – using birds and planes as the context

    Rights: Image licensed through

    Taking wing

    Planes and birds are both affected by the same forces in flight. They have to be able to provide enough lift force to oppose the weight force.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Forces on a kite

    Flying a kite depends on the relative size of the forces (lift, drag, weight, force of the wind and tension in the bridle line) acting on the kite.


    The motion of a pendulum is an example of energy transformation – potential to kinetic and back again.


    Rocket design is all about finding an optimal balance between thrust, mass and aerodynamics.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Effervescent canister rockets

    Make an effervescent canister rocket using baking soda and vinegar.


    The science ideas that allow satellites to remain in orbit are principally ones of gravitational forces and circular motion.

    Science concepts

    Another way to explore forces is by exploring some of the key science concepts. Check out the resources curated regarding Newton's laws, energy, waves and force and movement. Remember you can filter by resource type and early years, primary or secondary level.

    Sporting edge

    Muscles can only contract and then relax – they can never push. So for every body movement there are muscles that contract to make the bones move and others that contract to pull the bones back to their original position.

    Teacher ideas and professional learning development

    In these videos, teacher Sinead Senek explains how her students learned about forces through hands-on experiences and Hub resources.

    The Science Learning Hub has a range of recorded webinars to support you with your physics teaching. Have a look at Physics made simple series: force and motion, gravity, waves and Exploring magnetism.

    The gravity well – a physics analogy explains how to construct and use the gravity well demonstrated in the Physics made simple – gravity webinar. It includes an interactive with conceptual simulations that can be demonstrated on a gravity well and links to related Hub content.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Gravity well materials

    Construct a gravity well with everyday materials.


    These collections below are ready to use and customise as you want:

    Login to make one or more of these collections one of your private collection – just click on the copy icon. You can then add additional content, notes, make other changes and collaborate with other. Registering an account for the Science Learning Hubs is easy and free – sign up with your email address or Google account. Look for the Sign in button at the top of each page. Find out more about creating collections.

    Useful link

    Check out some resources for physics in te reo Māori.

      Published 7 July 2015, Updated 1 December 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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