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Lloyd Godson, Hastings Secondary College, New South Wales

Nature of the inquiry problem

How might unbalanced forces affect the design of an artificial habitat to support human life on another planet or underwater?

Suitable year levels and subject areas

Australian Curriculum

Year 7 Science

Year 10 Science

Stage 5 Science NSW Syllabus

Curriculum links

Physical Sciences

  • Change to an object’s motion is caused by unbalanced forces, including Earth’s gravitational attraction, acting on the object (ACSSU117).
  • The motion of objects can be described and predicted using the laws of physics (ACSSU229).


Stage 5 Science NSW Syllabus:

PW2: The action of forces that act at a distance may be observed and related to everyday situations.


e. identify that the Earth’s gravity pulls objects towards the centre of the Earth (ACSSU118)

f. describe everyday situations where gravity acts as an unbalanced force

g. distinguish between the terms ‘mass’ and ‘weight’.


WS6: Students conduct investigations by:

b. assembling and using appropriate equipment and resources to perform the investigation, including safety equipment

e. recording observations and measurements accurately, using appropriate units for physical quantities.


WS7.1: Students process data and information by:

a. summarising data from students’ own investigations and secondary sources (ACSIS130, ACSIS145)

b. using a range of representations to organise data, including graphs, keys, models, diagrams, tables and spreadsheets

e. applying simple numerical procedures, e.g. calculating means when processing data and information, as appropriate.


WS7.2: Students analyse data and information by:

b. constructing and using a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships, including using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS129, ACSIS144)

d. using scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions based on students’ data or secondary sources (ACSIS130, ACSIS145)

e. proposing inferences based on presented information and observations.


WS8: Students solve problems by:

d. using cause-and-effect relationships to explain ideas and findings.

Learning Objectives

SC4-4WS: Identifies questions and problems that can be tested or researched and makes predictions based on scientific knowledge.

SC4-5WS: Collaboratively and individually produces a plan to investigate questions and problems.

SC4-7WS: Processes and analyses data from a first-hand investigation and secondary sources to identify trends, patterns and relationships, and draw conclusions.

SC4-8WS: Selects and uses appropriate strategies, understanding and skills to produce creative and plausible solutions to identified problems.

SC4-9WS: Presents science ideas, findings and information to a given audience using appropriate scientific language, text types and representations.

SC4-10PW: Describes the action of unbalanced forces in everyday situations.

Student Learning Outcomes*

Students will be able to:

  • Design an experiment to explore unbalanced forces.
  • Apply their understanding of unbalanced forces to design an artificial habitat to support human life on another planet or underwater.
  • Draw an annotated diagram to describe how forces are acting on their model habitat.

Students work in teams of 4 with individual group roles. 

Assessment outcomes

Informal evaluation of student concept designs of artificial habitats.

Information and communications technology (ICT)

Video links and web links.


Please refer to 'Off the Planet Lesson 1' for a list of suggested experiments and resources.


Off the Planet (created by Lloyd Godson) (2020) Copyright owned by Department of Education, New South Wales. Except as otherwise noted, this work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Download the lesson

Off-the-Planet PDF (237 KB)

Off-the-Planet TXT (25 KB)

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