Physics for kids is all about hands-on learning. Kids learn best when they are allowed to see, touch and get messy. These physics activities will make learning the properties of physics fun for your little scientists and provide help with physics concepts that they'll learn about in school.
Magnets are fascinating for young children. They can learn so much just by playing with magnets. To help teach your child about magnetism, gather up various magnets. You probably have several around the house already; there are also magnet sets available at educational supply stores. Ask you child to look around the house for as many objects as he can find which he thinks can be picked up with the magnets. Discuss why some objects are not attracted to the magnets. Try to touch the magnets to each other, and note how sometimes they have a strong attraction and sometimes they push away from each other and won't touch. Why does this happen?
Sink or Float?
This fun physics game can be altered to be appropriate for any age. Gather a bunch of objects together, such as a cork, a paperclip, a pencil, assorted small toys, a jar lid, etc. Fill a plastic tub with water. Have your child look at each object in turn, and make a prediction as to whether the object will sink or float. After they've taken their guess, have your child place the object in the water to see if she was correct. Older students can explain why they think each one will sink or float, and make a chart of their predictions and results.
You can't see air, but it does take up space, and it can move things. Illustrate this to your kids by blowing up a balloon. Allow your child to feel the difference between the empty balloon and the inflated balloon. Next, release the balloon to show how the air being expelled can move the balloon.
You can also have fun with moving air by making a pinwheel using a pencil, a 10-inch square of lightweight card stock and a straight pin. Start by cutting the card stock from each of the four corners diagonally to the center, stopping before the center of the paper. Next, bend the right corner of each of the flaps you formed by cutting, and glue in place, forming a pinwheel shape. Complete by sticking the straight pin through the center of your pinwheel, and then sticking the end of the pin into the pencil eraser.
States of Matter
This activity takes a little bit of time, but there is no better way to help with the physics concept of the states of matter. Start by filling an ice cube tray or small container with water. Put it in the freezer overnight, so your child can see that the water changes from a liquid to a solid. Next, put some of the ice into a small saucepan, over low heat, and allow your child to watch as the ice melts back into a liquid again. Continue to heat the melted ice until it begins to simmer and turn to steam or water vapor. If you wish, you can collect some of the steam onto a pot lid, so that your kids can see how the water vapor turns back into liquid form as it cools.
Next time you watch fireworks with your kids, take advantage of the opportunity to share some simple lessons in physics with them.
Kids will love these simple physics projects that show the composition of light and let them build simple machines.
Volleyball and physics share a close relationship. The next time you watch or play a game of volleyball, think about the rules of physics that make the game possible.