Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

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guitarplayer
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Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by guitarplayer »

DW is taking part in an activity where she and a few other people are going to be showing physics experiments for 4-8 year old children. The whole activity will last about 40 min, the aim it to plant love for physics in children' minds. The question is what experiments are likely to gain most traction.

There's lots of resources online, we have looked at some cool ones to do with electricity like building a light bulb from a pencil graphite and a jar, or lighting an LED with copper and nails in vinegar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLBZdYDks10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piMv1dlcIzA

But I think perhaps 4-8 yo people might be more into mechanics? Like for example this one on potential energy and popsicle sticks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7j7l39ZAsU

Static charge stuff is another candidate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jXb6Lsqhc0

Do you have any other ideas? Maybe something that you remember as particularly impressive when you were that age.
Last edited by guitarplayer on Tue May 07, 2024 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jennypenny
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by jennypenny »

Leverage. I remember being fascinated by pulleys and levers and being able to lift things that were beyond my strength.

We're also fans of catapults and trebuchets in our house.

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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by jacob »

A Van de Graaff generator combined with someone's long hair was always a hit.

Also potato batteries. You can have them try with different fruits and vegetables. See who can make the light shine the brightest.

chenda
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by chenda »

I have fond memories of my science teacher cutting up lumps of potassium and throwing them in water. But I fear the health and safety people will have a lot to say about that and it won't be favourable.

@jp - there was a thing in our local science centre where you could build a bridge by lining up boxes and holding them together in an arch with compressive strength and then walk over them. It appealed to me for some reason.

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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by jacob »

chenda wrote:
Tue May 07, 2024 9:11 am
I have fond memories of my science teacher cutting up lumps of potassium and throwing them in water. But I fear the health and safety people will have a lot to say about that and it won't be favourable.
Me too. I bet that the legal profession has had some boring impact on school science experiments over the past 40 years. Another fan favorite was making FeS (it smells like rotten potatoes... which is hilarious to anyone who likes fart jokes.) Our teacher almost setting fire to the table with a runaway bunsen burner. Exploding a rather large hydrogen balloon. Blowing up half his pointer stick (that was before laser pointers). And yes .. covering the ceiling in pH indicator after throwing a rather large lump of Na into a big bowl of water.

The best one, though, was using a magneto from an old phone and then having one student hold on end, that student holding hands with the next student and so on all the way around and the last student holding the other wire. Then the teacher cranking away while the kids got zapped until someone broke the chain and stepped out. Repeat until last kid standing was declared the winner. I can't imagine repeating that one these days.

guitarplayer
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by guitarplayer »

Cool thanks! I see this evoked some fond memories :)

I've shared the link to this thread with DW so she'll make the most out of it hopefully, maybe even post ! (I know she has an account on the forum)

fingeek
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

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basuragomi
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by basuragomi »

This guy is a retired elementary science teacher, so he has many classroom-friendly demonstrations.

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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by jacob »

Fun tangent: I once visited a Little Free Library in NY which aside from the usual free books also had a box with various school-level math puzzles and science experiments. Kinda like how other LFLs sometimes offer small bags of seeds, postcards, bookmarks, ... except this was small bags of STEM oriented fun stuff. I think the guy who ran them was a retired teacher.

guitarplayer
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by guitarplayer »

It’s really cool to revisit all this stuff - can make one feel grounded in a different way than pushing a wheelbarrow can make one feel grounded.

I think I was particularly unlucky with my high school physics teacher who was off to be pregnant twice across my high school years which was then in turn not quite well handled and this sort of made the whole experience scattered and void.

I was neither lucky not unlucky with my maths teacher(s) which itself I consider relatively lucky as my inclination for maths at least had not been left in tatters.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

From age 4 to 8 is a pretty huge jump in cognitive development. Pretty much all you are going to teach a mostly 4 year old crowd with such a demonstration is that Physics is another name for Magic! So, I recommend just making it fun and engaging. Incorporating music and movement is always a good tactic with young children.

Here's an example on the topic of the Water Cycle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM-59ljA4Bs

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Sclass
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by Sclass »

Slinky is good to visualize longitudinal wave vs. transverse waves. Standing waves.

I built a switch with optical isolation today using a semiconductor relay that uses an LED and a photo transistor inside. Galvanic isolation. Kind of an interesting concept if you want to switch loads at differing electric potentials.

Watching an infrared remote control in your ring security camera.

For shocks I like using a battery and a transformer out of an old appliance. This is basically electrical leverage. Galvanic isolation on that one too. You can really observe Faradays law by manually switching the primary signal as fast as you can.

Shocking somebody with a grill lighter. Learn about high voltage required to get a spark to leap out a few millimeters. Also learn about piezoelectric effect.

For electrostatics I like the comb the hair deflect the water faucet stream.

Magnets, compasses and motors are always fun.

Two cans connected with a taught wire.

bostonimproper
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Re: Physics experiments for 4-8 yo

Post by bostonimproper »

I remember loving a DIY motor activity similar to this one as a kid: https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/st ... down-motor

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