Enrichment Ideas for Force and
Expand the boundaries of your kit study. Encourage your
students' curiosity with these outlets for extending
engagement in research.
study | friction | mechanics | amazing structures | amusement park physics | pendulums
That's the Way the Ball Bounces
The Exploratorium provides a scientific and
anecdotal tale about the physics of bouncing
balls, as well as why and how balls are suited to
their specific sports.
Energy Transfer Using Balls
This simple activity, designed explicitly for a
teacher to perform with students, allows a handy
visualization of the law of Conservation of
Momentum by investigating the actions of ping pong
and golf balls.
How Things Work: Balls, Birdies, and Frisbees
Don't be fooled by the title! The information contained on
this page may seem frivolous, but addresses some of the most
elemental physics concepts as they relate to everyday items.
A physics professor answers many types of reader-submitted
questions, with such topics as "Why are there dimples on
golf balls?" and "How does fuzz on a tennis ball make it fly
Explore motion and design concepts with this
extremely simple activity from the Exploratorium.
Using only scissors and a piece of paper, students
can invent and modify spinning "blimps" while
exploring physical science properties.
Racing with Newton's Laws of Motion
Your class can get involved in this online collaborative
project created by an eighth grade science teacher. The
project seeks to help students understand Newton's Laws of
Motion by constructing and racing balloon-propelled cars.
All necessary basic information for students and teachers is
listed on the site, but be sure to read this first.
Center of Gravity
Try this quick activity from The Exploratorium, and you'll
be able to find the center of gravity of a long, thin
object, even if the object's weight is unevenly
This activity from The Exploratorium investigates
issues of potential and kinetic energy and mass
distribution by examining how two objects with the
same shape and the same mass may behave
differently when they roll down a hill.
Experiment with Friction
The Science Museum of Minnesota offers an activity
that explores friction through the use of ball
bearings, and asks some thought questions for
reflection after the experiment. There's also a
brief video on this page about how an artist
accommodates for friction in his movable art. To
see it, you'll need the Quicktime plug-in.
Definitely technical and therefore for the older student or
you only, but these interactive activities from
ExploreScience.com are quite fascinating and do a good job
of providing a visible complement to the major concepts that
Inside a Bathroom Scale
Explore the world of levers, a spring, and other mechanical
parts that allow bathroom scales to measure weight
accurately. It's fun to peek inside this everyday object and
see simple machines at work.
As a companion to a PBS program that aired in the past, this
innovative site from NOVA stands well on its own. You might
be especially interested in taking a look at NOVA Raises an Obelisk and Lever an Obelisk to see how they deal with
Following a NOVA presentation on PBS years ago, an
archeologist answered questions about how Stonehenge was
built, why it was likely to have been built, and what is
known about the builders. This could be fascinating to share
with your students, considering that, at this time,
archeologists believe that the wheel had not yet been
invented. Find the archive of these questions and answers
Roman Baths and Aqueducts
Learn all about the magnificent feats of engineering and
design that the Romans employed to create baths and miles of
aqueducts throughout their empire. Following this link will
take you to an interview, which is a good place to start,
but be sure to click around the other sections of the
Amusement Park Physics
Amusement Park Physics
In addition to roller coasters, this site explores the
physics behind the carousel, bumper cars, free fall, and
pendulum rides. The site is organized in an easy, question-
and-answer format, considering some of the famous mysteries
of rides, such as "Are some horses [on the carousel] moving
faster than others?" and "Wooden or steel coaster: Does it
make a difference?" Spend some time on this site, and be
sure to click on the physics glossary and the related links
for additional info.
How Roller Coasters Work
These pages examine the principles that keep coasters in
their tracks, the hardware that keeps the rides running, and
the physics that make the ride so exciting. Be sure to try
the animated graphic that illustrates how and when the
shifts in potential and kinetic energies happen.
The Exploratorium offers a simple activity using a suspended
paint can and magnets that illustrates how a very small
force, when applied repeatedly at just the right time, can
induce a very large motion.
The Foucault Pendulum
Learn about how Foucault discovered that a swinging pendulum
illustrates the Earth's rotation. You can read Foucault's
original document and investigate the science behind the
phenomenon on this site.