3 Cool and Simple Physics Projects

These simple physics projects make learning about physics is a lot more fun. These ideas let your kids experience the principles of physics first-hand, which is the best way for kids to learn. Most of the materials you need for these activities can be found around the house, and they can be adapted for students of all ages. So roll up your sleeves, and have some physics fun with your kids or try these ideas for physics homework projects.

Make Your Own Pulley
When your kids need to learn about simple machines, there's no better way to help them understand how they work than by making your own. Begin by finding examples of simple machines around your home, then make your very own pulley.

You will need a spool, a dowel that fits through the hole of the spool, some twine and a paperclip. Begin by inserting the dowel into the spool, and then hang the dowel from a tree branch or other high place using the twine, supporting both ends of the dowel so that the spool is parallel to the ground. Cut another length of twine approximately one and a half times the distance between the dowel and the ground. Hang the twine over the spool and tie the paper clip to one end of the twine, letting the other end hang down to the ground. Tie any object you wish to move to the free end, such as a teddy bear, a small toy or a wooden block. If you wish, you can tie a small basket to the end. Now, pull the paperclip end, and watch as your object goes up. Try things with different weights, and explain that the pulley, like a lever, uses physics to make it easier to move heavy loads.

Fun with Prisms
What makes a rainbow? Explain this natural phenomenon to your kids by playing with prisms. All you need is a light source, such as a lamp, a flashlight or a sunbeam and an inexpensive prism, which can be purchased at any educational supply store. Allow your child to shine the light around, observing that the beam of light is white. Next, shine the light through the prism, until you get a rainbow. Talk about how light is made of different colors, which are separated by the prism. You can also take the experiment outside, spraying the hose into the sun until you see the spectrum again, demonstrating the way the droplets of water act as prisms.

Build a Catapult
What kid doesn't like to throw stuff? Building a catapult is a fun way to see physics in action. To make a simple catapult, you will need a block of wood, a spring clothespin, a plastic spoon and strong tape.

Begin by taping or gluing one side of the clothespin to the block. Do this so that the clothespin can still open and close when you push down on it. This is the base of your catapult. Next, securely tape the plastic spoon onto the top side of the clothespin, with the bowl of the spoon facing up. You now have a miniature catapult. Place a marshmallow in the spoon, then press it down with your finger and release to send your marshmallow flying.

The catapult illustrates several concepts of physics. There's stored energy, or the power that's contained in the spring when you push the clothespin down. There's gravity, which affects how far the marshmallow will fly. Finally, there's the transfer of energy, which is what causes the marshmallow to soar when the clothespin is released.

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