Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Science: Physics (Part 1)

We are continuing on with the Real Science 4 Kids series. Our latest unit was Focus on Elementary Physics. We did the first of the ten physics chapters in mid-March and the last one in early May. The children had fun with the physics experiments. It was a good unit once the trio understood a few basics such as electrons are negative and protons are positive.

Chapter 1: What Is Physics
Experiment 1: Falling Objects
Kara did this lesson with the children. For the experiment they dropped objects from the top of the staircase. They really liked dropping stuff down since this is not normally allowed. Their experiment reminded me of a short experiment I had recently seen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so I pulled out three glasses of water, three mandarin oranges, three toilet paper rolls, and a piece of sturdy cardboard. We proceeded to see if we could get the oranges to drop into the glasses of water. I should have videotaped the children doing it. It was quite amusing. The boys were too gentle with their hits to make it work. Viva had no problem giving the board under the toilet paper rolls holding the mandarins a hard slam. Her first try all three mandarins landed in the glasses. Once the boys saw her do it, they quickly mastered the technique.

Chapter 2: Push and Pull
Experiment 2: Get To Work
This lesson was about work, forces, and energy. The children used their energy to force a change on different objects. Sometimes it worked (marshmallows) and other times it didn't work (wooden blocks). We learned you can use a lot of energy and sometimes do no work! (That's a good life lesson to remember.)

Chapter 3: Kinds of Energy
Experiment 3: Moving Energy in a Toy Car
This lesson was about potential energy. Bentley, Jake, and Viva took turns lifting a ramp with a car on it to different heights observing how much height (stored gravitational energy) it took to get the car on the ramp to move (kinetic energy). Lincoln and Evan showed up to join the fun. We also tried to measure kinetic force by seeing how much energy was transferred to a marshmallow when a speeding car crashed into it. This experiment was a big hit.

Chapter 4: Rolling Marbles
Experiment 4: When Things Move
I pulled the marbles out and attempted to prove two scientific principles using them. We saw that marbles roll more easily on a smooth surface (wooden table) than a rough one (carpet), but we could not prove that heavy marbles have more inertia than lighter marbles. How do you control the amount of energy (the force of your push) applied to a marble? Some of the time the heavier marbles rolled farthest (yes!), but other times the lighter marbles won the race (no!).

Chapter 5: Chemical Energy
Experiment 5: Lemon Energy
The children readily understood the concepts discussed in this lesson. The experiment called for making lemon batteries. We didn't have any lemons and we'd built a lemon battery just a few months ago, so we opted to do a different type of chemical energy experiment. Last summer they did film canister rockets with their mom and loved it, so I pulled out the film canisters and Alka Seltzer tablets. The trio went outside and experimented with their canister rockets for thirty minutes.

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