Cool Science Activities: Exploring Physics with Kids - Edventures with Kids

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Cool Science Activities: Exploring Physics with Kids

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Welcome back to our Summer Science series hosted by Edventures with Kids and Inspiration Laboratories

So far, we've covered biology {books about plants, animals & humans}, geology {rock, volcano and fossil activities} and astronomy {marshmallow constellations}. 

This week, we're focusing on physics and boy, was it hard to narrow down what we wanted to do!  There are so many areas of our lives that are governed by the principles of physics -- like the fact that we don't all just float away due to gravity ;)

 

Exploring Physics with Kids

Physics is the area of science that focuses on matter and energy.  The areas of mechanics, light, heat, sound, electricity, magnets and forces are all broad areas of physics. 

I know -- it's a HUGE part of science and life. 

So where do you begin? 

With kids, the easiest place to begin is with life experiences.  Talk about the force of gravity when they drop something.  Or explore the idea of sound waves and why it's easier to hear someone talking when they are right next to you vs. when they are in another room.

And I often rely on some good books -- because they always bring up great questions!  Here's a few that we really love including their affiliate links that are perfect when discussing physic concepts:

 

We love the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series!  The book Forces Make Things Move is a great look into the various forces that exist around us.  Kids will learn about concepts like gravity and friction in a fun and tangible way.  It's also a great refresher for us parents who haven't talked about physics since that high school science class ;)

 

Another one of our favorite science series is the Magic School Bus -- both the books and the videos are excellent!  The Magic School Bus And The Electric Field Trip explains electricity and electrical currents as kids see what lights up a bulb and how electricity travels to their house.

 

Older kids can also enjoy exploring science with Ms. Frizzle and the class.  Once they outgrow the Magic School Bus picture books, try the chapter book series which shares more details about the various science topics.  A few of the books that cover physics principles include Amazing Magnetism (Magic School Bus Chapter Book #12) and the Electric Storm (Magic School Bus Chapter Books, No. 14).  These are great for kids ages 8+.

 

The Classic Sink & Float Experiment

I can't believe that I haven't shared a hands-on sink & float activity yet!  This is one of those things that kids do all the time -- they LOVE to play with items in water. 

First, the physics behind sink & float:

We'll be testing two physics concepts during this activity.  The first is density -- the weight of an item in relation to it's volume.  Volume is how much space something takes up -- so Dad has a larger volume than the kids.

The easiest way to explain density is that everything is made up of molecules -- the closer together those molecules are, the more dense the item. 

Try not to let kids get caught up in saying "if it weighs more, it will sink".  Something doesn't need to weigh a lot to sink -- for example, give them a really small rock and a really large rock.  They will both sink because they are both dense.

The second concept that you can introduce is buoyancy.  Buoyance is actually the upward force that supports items in water.  This is why we feel lighter when we're in a pool -- there's actually a force helping to keep us supported and afloat.

Now I frequently recommend that you try this experiment in the tub when the kids are taking a bath but since we're dealing with fruit, you might want to use a large pot or bowl instead of the tub (then you'll be able to eat the fruit later ;)

 

Hands-on Physics

Ok, time to get wet!  Head to the fridge or your local Farmer's Market and grab some fruits and veggies -- we used a variety of small and large items (it's just more fun that way).  You'll also need a large bowl or pot filled with water.

 

cool science experiment

BEFORE you let the kids drop anything in the water, print off our Sink & Float worksheet so the kids can make a few predictions about what fruit & veggies will sink or float.

 

predictions for science experiments

Let the kids hold each of the items you will test.  Ask them "Do you think it will sink or float?" 

Talk about the idea of density and which items they think are very dense vs. not so dense. 

Have the kids circle their prediction for each item.  This is a really important step in any science experiment -- forming predictions and testing to see the results!

Now the fun -- drop each of the items into the water to see what happens!

sink and float with fruit

Circle the results for each item -- how many did you predict correctly?  We were 50/50 for our small fruit items.  My daughter realized that blueberries both sink and float.  And strawberries float too!  When we cut them open, you can see that the middle (core) of the strawberry is hollow.

 

sink or float experiment

Both peppers and nectarines float!  Peppers were an easy guess but necterines took a little thought (the pit being hollow was our learning experience).  Here's where we can really see buoyancy at play -- see how the pepper floats on the top of the water but the nectarine floats below the surface?  That shows us how the force of buoyancy affects items differently depending on their density.

 

will a melon float

And a melon is one of the coolest things to test (well, that and pumpkins but we don't have any of those yet).  Melons can be really large compared to the other items and sometimes feel pretty heavy (easy to trick the kids with this one) :)

 

cool science experiments

And yep, it floats!

 

Explore More Cool Science

There are so many ways to discover the different areas of physics!  Hop over and explore color and temperature with Inspiration Laboratories this week too.

 

Be sure to visit all of the awesome booklists & activities for all the science topics!

 

Summer Science for Kids

 

June 25th -- {Biology}

Books & Websites that explore Plants, Animals & the Human Body

Backyard Earthworm Experiments

 

July 2nd -- {Geology}

The Science of Rocks, Fossils and Volcanoes

Become a Rock Collector

Digging for Dinosaurs -- Learn to be a Paleontologist

 

July 9th -- {Astronomy}

Explore the Night Sky - Marshmallow Constellations

The Earth, Moon & Sun

Books about Space

Solar System Activities for Kids

 

July 16th -- {Physics}

Fantastic Forces & Water Rockets

Exploring Color and Temperature

Does your Food Sink or Float?

 

July 23rd -- {Chemistry}

Create Your Own Wizard's Lab

Make a Cup Cake (Chemistry of Baking)

Blowing Up Balloons/Blowing Out Candles

 

July 30th -- {Ecology}

Kids Activities that Explore Ecology

A Lesson about Food Chains

Learning about Biomes

Create an Under the Sea World: Exploring Ocean Zones

 

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