Coward Punch - The Physics of Falling

Coward Punch - The Physics of Falling

Lesson 5 of 5 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 9 - 10
  • Science
  • Physics
  • Environmental
  • Recycling
  • Social
  • Social Action
  • ...

Lesson summary

In this lesson, students will use what they have learnt about forces and the laws of motion to investigate what can happen to a person knocked to the ground in a coward punch attack. They will learn about the coward punch in context, explain these using motion principles and perform calculations for forces and energy for a falling object, using balls to model falls on different surfaces.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • perform calculations involving forces, energy and Newton’s Second Law during a fall
  • understand that the forces resulting from a fall caused by a coward punch are sufficient to cause significant injury or death.

Success criteria:

Students can...

  • apply the laws of motion to a real-world scenario
  • identify the forces on an object falling and hitting the ground
  • calculate energy and force values for free-falling objects
  • explain the application of motion concepts to an instance of the coward punch
  • identify the cause of significant injury from head trauma caused by high forces.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian Curriculum content descriptions: 

Year 10 Science:

  • Energy conservation in a system can be explained by describing energy transfers and transformations (ACSSU190)
  • The motion of objects can be described and predicted using the laws of physics (ACSSU229)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-10PW, SC5-11PW

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: 
Students explain the concept of energy conservation and represent energy transfer and transformation within systems. They apply relationships between force, mass and acceleration to predict changes in the motion of objects

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work STOP the Coward Punch: Science – Years 9 & 10

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium to High – teacher will moderate class discussions, run group activities and facilitate learning around a topic of violence which will require sensitivity and nuance

Resources required

  • Device capable of creating audio-visual recordings with slow playback (optional)
  • Device capable of presenting video and images to the class
  • Scientific calculators
  • Student devices with internet capability (optional)
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Ethical understanding
  • Problem solving

Additional info

Following this lesson plan is an ideal way for your school to take part in Schools Clean Up Day or a Clean Up on any day of the year. You’ll be joining thousands of amazing teachers in making a difference and creating positive environmental change.

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