Does your child know what the periodic table is? Do they understand gravity, magnetism or states of matter? Do they know who Isaac Newton is and all about Newton's law of motion? Have you ever talked to your child about Earth and planets in our solar system?
If the answer is no, then don't worry! Your child can still become a strong physicist.
We are about to look at how, with a range of science games, science activities, science fair project ideas and science experiments, is best to teach young scientists scientific facts relating to the amazing science that is Physics and generally make learning about Science fun.
What Is Physics?
Physics is a branch of science that studies matter and motion (from the smallest molecules and atoms to the largest stars and the universe), and how these interact with energy and forces.
Physics is not an easy science. It is a huge and complicated subject that incorporates many branches, such as electricity, astronomy, motion, waves, sound, and light. But why do children need to know about the world and this cool science in such detail?
Science isn't normally described by young students as the most fun subject, and Physics is usually seen as a challenging area of science ahead of Biology and Chemistry.
However, with the use of games, laboratory experiments, and other fun activities to help to explain Physics, most children would agree that Science for kids is a fascinating and fun subject. What's more, don't most kids grow up loving space, cars, airplane models and so on? This interest will be fueled further by learning about the important matters covered by a Physics curriculum.
Physicists, who are scientists that specialise in Physics, use scientific tests and research to explain how the world around us works, which is fascinating for all, no matter your age. Many of our modern technologies have derived from scientific discoveries, and engineers within this field use physics to help design airplanes, cars, satellites, buildings, and electronics such as computers and mobile phones.
To recap, below are the main topics that children and adults alike will study as part of any Physics crash course:
- Work and Energy
- Waves and Sound
- Light and Optics
- Nuclear Physics and Relativity
Now let's find out more about how institutions offering Physics approach teaching Physics to young students!
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Quantum Physics For Kids
Just one of the key topics that kids will be taught about in Physics class is Quantum Mechanics, or Quantum Physics, the branch of Physics relating to the very small. What could be more perfect for those tiny, growing people than to start with the fundamental smallest atoms?
At the minuscule scale of atoms and electrons, many of the equations of classical mechanics that children or their parents might have learned about in the past become irrelevant. In classical mechanics, objects exist in a specific place at a specific time yet in Quantum Mechanics, objects simply exist in a haze of probability; this means they only have a certain chance of being at a certain point, another chance of being at another point and so on. Doesn't sound very scientific or accurate, does it?
QM cannot be attributed to one scientist.
Controversially spanning a few decades, the initial set of mathematical explanations of experiments that the math of classical mechanics could not explain emerged at the start of the 20th century and then multiple scientists contributed to a foundation of three revolutionary principles that gradually became accepted as true between 1900 and 1930.
Instructors will teach their pupils about these three revolutionary principles which come under the branch of Quantum Physics, and which are:
Certain properties, such as position, speed and color, can sometimes only occur in specific, set amounts, much like a dial that 'clicks' from number to number. This challenged a fundamental assumption of classical mechanics, which said that such properties should exist on a smooth, continuous spectrum. To describe the idea that some properties 'clicked' like a dial with specific settings, scientists coined the word 'quantized'.
Particles of light:
Light can sometimes behave as a particle. This was initially met with harsh criticism, as it ran contrary to 200 years of experiments showing that light behaved as a wave; much like ripples on the surface of a calm lake. Light behaves similarly in that it bounces off walls and bends around corners, and that the crests and troughs of the wave can add up or cancel out. Added wave crests result in brighter light, while waves that cancel out produce darkness. A light source can be thought of as a ball on a stick being rhythmically dipped in the center of a lake. The color emitted corresponds to the distance between the crests, which is determined by the speed of the ball's rhythm.
Waves of matter:
Matter can also behave as a wave. This ran counter to the roughly 30 years of experiments showing that matter (such as electrons) exists as particles." - Live Science
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Physics Experiments For Kids
Kids love to ask questions. Even by the age of two or three, when they first start speaking, many children begin to respond to anything you say to them with 'why?'!
Their curious minds develop from the moment they are born and they spend their first years trying to take in as much about the world as they possibly can. This doesn't stop when they start school and begin to learn about entirely new subjects and concepts, in fact, this only makes them keener to explore more about this world they live in.
In an ideal world, parents and teachers want to encourage children in the care to:
- think critically
- and more…
Thanks to Physics and the many questions it encourages, getting kids to think outside of the box isn't as hard as it first seems, especially when you introduce a fun experiment into the mix rather than just working from worksheets.
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From catapults to rockets, stars to planets, you will find something that will get children excited about learning about Physics at home or in the classroom, you simply need to keep the momentum up! Just take a look at some of the fun experiments, games, and quizzes that we've discovered which can add to the fun of educating your kids about Physics!
With the help of these hands-on activities, encourage your kids to make predictions, discuss what they've seen and learned, and re-test their ideas to absorb as much information as they can. Science is often a mysterious thing for children to behold and, naturally, they just love to figure things out on their own (with your help and supervision, of course!).
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Fun Physics Experiments For Kids
There are so many different types of interactive science experiment that can be attempted either in the classroom or at home, but here's just one idea that should start to get the ball rolling in terms of discovering more about motion.
What's more, most people will have the equipment needed which means that this can easily be set up as a quick daytime activity after school, during the weekend or in the school holidays.
It might even be worth doing this one evening to tie in with some Physics prep or homework so that your child can go in the next day and tell their teacher about what they learned.
Lego Balloon Car (courtesy of Little Bins Little Hands)
What will you need?
- Small Tape Measure
- Craft/ Beading or Nails and Screws Box
How does it work?
Lego is so entertaining for kids, whether they are simply building a single-storey house for their toys or they are using it for a greater purpose. This easy to make Lego Balloon Car is, therefore, a perfect trick to enable your child to learn about Physics matters. The activity combines simple science and engineering to make an incredible learning activity that will provide hours of fun and a positive learning outcome.
All you need to do is encourage your little one to build a car, help them blow up the balloon and let their Lego car go! The accompanying adult should make a car too so that the following questions can be considered.
"How far will your balloon car travel? Grab a measuring tape and see whose car went the farthest! Great for math skills too.
Why did this car go farther?
Why do you think this car was slower?
What if we tried it on a rug?
What happens if the balloon is blown up more or less?"
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There are endless questions that you can all ask to explore this fun activity, in fact, the more questions you can think of the better!
Egg Drop Engineering Challenge (courtesy of Schooling A Monkey)
What will you need?
- Craft materials like cardboard boxes. cotton wool, sponges, etc
How does it work?
The goal of this science project is to create a container that will safely place a raw egg onto the ground when it is dropped from high.
The beauty of this project is that you can let kids be as creative in their designs as they want, turning the initial phase into more of a craft making one. You might want to include some design challenges or rules like they must use a cardboard box in their design or they have to use sponges.
You could also set up a requirement that states that the designs be a certain size.
To add to the success if your exploration, give your egg drop a theme, like an Easter one if it is springtime.
Another fun twist is to try dropping the eggs from different heights. The egg padding that withstands the most tumbling is the winner!
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Make Your Own Kids Science Experiments With Food
Much fun can be had with food (think about products erupting, melting and the fun of inventing recipes!), and you can teach your child about how certain foods are made using a chemical reaction. All you need to do is search the Internet for some baking ideas that you and your family can do together, and usually with very simple ingredients.
Take a look in your food cupboard, cupboard, or fridge, for instance, and see if you have any of the following. This will be a good start! A word of warning to the science teacher in command - it could get messy!
- Food coloring
- Fizzy drinks like Coke or Diet Coke
- Baking soda
If you are a skilled scientist yourself, you might even be able to safely make dry ice or make slime as cool science experiments.
Physics Games For Kids
Not only are experiments and discoveries hugely impactful, but enjoying some fun science games can also help your child to learn more about science and technology.
There's a range of free online activities to try in the form of apps, websites and other software, with something for everyone. Whether your child is fascinated by animals, cars, plants, space, magnets, light, music, bubbles, chemical reactions or other science-related topics, you'll be sure to find an educational activity that will keep them entertained.
Below, we have put together a list of some of the apps and games available for you and your kids to try out. Some must be purchased, but none of them is likely to break the bank!
Fun Physics Activities
Tinybop Simple Machines
Age range: 4+
"The app presents the 6 elements of basic mechanics — levers, pulleys, wheel and axles, screws, inclined planes, and wedges — that are used to solve playful little physics puzzles, like cracking open ice boulders with wedges or using levers to lay siege to a castle. You know, typical real-world stuff your kid might have to face someday. And because it’s physics, and physics is hard, the physics game offers a downloadable companion, the Simple Machines Handbook, to help you better understand what’s going on and explain it to your children. Or perhaps vice versa." - Reviewed by Common Sense Media
iOS and Android app
Age range: 3-8
"The physics app title refers to the anthropomorphic balls that kids select to begin the game. Their character then rolls through levels, encountering obstacles that are overcome by creatively applying basic physics concepts (e.g. fall off something, bounce, and land on another thing). There’s no scoring, so kids don’t get competitive – just smart." - Reviewed by Common Sense Media
Crayon Physics Deluxe
Linux, Mac and Windows software
Age range: 8+
"Parents need to know that Crayon Physics Deluxe is a nifty puzzle game that can teach your kids some physics. Play is drawing-based, wherein your cursor becomes a crayon, and once you draw something it immediately assumes mass and weight. There is nothing about the content to concern parents unless your kids are old enough to tackle the puzzles, which start out easy but get progressively harder. Although kids as young as age 6 and 7 can play the early puzzles, the later puzzles are better for kids age 8 and up. Since there's no storyline, this is a game best played by kids who like to do puzzles." - Reviewed by Common Sense Media