Ideas for interactive physics activity for kids?
May 4, 2014 3:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for interactive activities that will help to teach physics for a bright 10-year old.

I would like something where you control certain variables and then get to see what happens, recording the results and possibly retrying.

A couple of examples:

Roller coaster activity

Friction activity

I am looking for other online examples of this kind of thing, and also ideas for experiments I could use to build my own simple activities. I was thinking, for example, of a game in which the aim was to design the perfect parachute.

The activity should be fun, but also based on real physics, with measurable results stemming from Newton's laws etc.

Any ideas?
posted by cincinnatus c to Education (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There are a ton of resources on the Exploratorium's website, I'd start there.
posted by radioamy at 4:20 PM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These are all very solid, and the site has lots of lesson plan ideas too, for each simulation.
posted by chr1sb0y at 6:00 PM on May 4, 2014

I just saw this --minivan/balloon/physics --video the other day, and it was pretty interesting. I'd check out his channel for some other experiments.
posted by hydra77 at 6:13 PM on May 4, 2014

My kids had school projects that involved packaging eggs and throwing them from a high window onto concrete to see if they broke. I don't remember of there was any real science, but it was fun. They built and flew model rockets.

You can combine science with cooking. For example, freezing ice cream in a hand crank machine cooled by ice and salt.

Also pendulums, soap bubbles, etc. You might look up old Mr wizard shows for ideas.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:23 PM on May 4, 2014

think in terms of quantity over quality, If you set out to do a dozen experiments, you're on the right track. There is a book called 507 mechanical movements. It's got cams and cranks, screws and levers, how to drill square holes. You can make them out of paper, cardboard, or melt your own milk bottles. Give a kid a jigsaw. He can probably make some of them in minecraft too.

Another book is Caveman Chemistry. Grok makes beer and soap.
posted by mearls at 7:11 PM on May 4, 2014

As a physic teacher, at 10, you can let the learning be a little constructivist by letting your scientist build stuff they find on

I mean, running labs is important, but learning to tinker is its own scientific process. If you want to control the data, prototype revision can be the experimental process.
posted by JimmyJames at 10:45 PM on May 4, 2014

We did a series of "cardboard and clear tape" construction projects in high school physics which should be simple enough for a 10-year-old. The basic premise was to design and build a device (usually out of only corrugated cardboard and packing tape) based on a challenge supplied by the teacher. The ones I can remember off the top of my head -

-Cardboard sailboat, which was tested by putting it in a trough of water and seeing which one went the farthest when pushed by a desk fan. Two challenges here: make it watertight and make it move.

-The classic egg drop, with the added twist of a distance competition. Everyone threw their egg contraptions off the top of the football bleachers, and the farthest lateral distance won. The egg still had to survive, of course.

-Bridge construction. I believe this one was popsicle sticks and glue instead of cardboard and tape, but you could do it either way. Whoever could carry the most weight would win.

-Self-powered car, no material restrictions. The car had to have its own drive mechanism (I think most people went for the wind-up rubber band method), and the one that made it farthest down the hallway won.

I like these kinds of competitions because they're based on real-world problems, but the best solutions to these model builds are usually not analogous to real-world solutions so there has to be a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking. For example, the best design for the car build didn't look like a car at all, it was simply an oatmeal canister, a rubber band, and a pencil.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:04 AM on May 5, 2014

Response by poster: As usual, I didn't word the question in a way that would ensure relevant answers.

I was specifically looking for online/downloadable electronic activities that could be played in a browser/on an ipad etc, similar to the examples I linked to.

chr1sb0y's answer is the only one that links to this kind of thing, so he gets best answer. If anyone happens to read this and knows of any good resources for electronic activities, I am very much still looking.
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:53 AM on May 6, 2014

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