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I took physics in both high school and college, and hated it both times.
In grad school, however, I realized how intuitively kids can pick up the laws of physics just from play.
For example, they learn about gravity by seeing that every time they jump, they always come back down.
This activity that I did with my kids teaches basic physics for kids through play.
My kids have recently spent a lot of time building towers and other creations with our SmartMax magnetic discovery set. My son loves to build the towers and then knock them down.
On a recent day, I decided to take advantage of his interest in building towers and knocking them down by adding a new component to the activity. I gathered several different objects from the house. Some were big, some were small, some were heavy, and some were light.
Then I found a pair of old thermals. I placed a rubber band at the bottom of one leg to seal it off. (Note: Tights or stockings would have been ideal for this, but I didn’t have any available.)
I invited the kids to place the large styrofoam ball into the bottom of our homemade wrecking ball. In this way, we created a homemade wrecking ball!
My son got up on a stool and began to swing our wrecking ball toward the tower we built. With the styrofoam ball inside, our wrecking ball was not very powerful and our tower did not fall over.
Then we swapped the styrofoam ball for a rubber bouncy ball.
This, too, was not strong enough to topple our tower.
Finally, my son made a wrecking ball from a large marble. This time our tower was easily knocked over!
Not only was this a lesson in physics for the kids, it was also a lesson in experimenting with different materials until you find the right one for the job.
Of course, the kids had so much fun with this that we immediately built another tower to knock over again. 🙂
Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
More science activities for kids
More science activities from Gift of Curiosity: