Playground Science – Exploring Pendulums & Ada Twist, Scientist
Playground Science and an Ada Twist, Scientist Giveaway
Playground designs have changed throughout the years, but a few structures like swings, monkey bars, and slides remain constant. Most kids have been on swings since before they could even walk, whether from being in an infant swing at home or a toddler swing at a playground or on a backyard swing set. It is a motion they are familiar with, and it can be quite soothing. Why not try using this favorite pastime to do some playground science next time you visit the local park?
Exploring Pendulums with the Scientific Method
How can swings help children explore science? The answer is in the physics of pendulums! Your students will follow the Scientific Method and come to a conclusion on their own about swings. What could be more fun than playground science?
After going over the background information, or the research step, it’s time to form the hypothesis. Have your kids form their own hypothesis, or guess, about what will happen when they change one of the variables (pendulum length or mass). Remember to only change ONE variable at a time. First, set the swing fairly low to the ground (or choose one that is low to the ground). Don’t forget to record the measurements!
Now it is time to test the hypothesis with an experiment. Have each of your test subjects swing on the swing for at least a few swings (trying to reach approximately the same height), then have them stop pumping their legs and measure the period. Do this by starting the stopwatch when they reach the very front/top of the swing, and when they return back to it again. Record the period, then move on to the next test subject!
Once each person has tested the swing at the initial height, move the swing higher, and repeat the test. Repeat the entire process at least once more for best results. You are now ready to analyze the data. Look at the test results and ask your kids these questions:
- What do you notice about the period when the swing is low to the ground (long string/chain) compared to when it is short?
- What do you notice about the period when people of different mass are on the swing?
- What factor affects the period more, the mass of the rider, or the length of the string?
- Does the starting angle affect the period at all (if the rider swings very high or very low)?
Now it’s time to check the hypothesis against the test results. Was your hypothesis correct? If it was, you guessed right. If not, that is okay too! Scientists need to follow the Scientific Method to find out how things behave. Rejecting your hypothesis is just as important as supporting it!
Once you have followed all of these steps, your students can let their peers know what they have learned by sharing their results. If they don’t believe it, they can form their own hypothesis and repeat the experiment. Perhaps they will want to test a different factor. Ask the kids what they think about these possible changes in the experiment:
The Physics of Pendulums
Ada Twist, Scientist Giveaway
Abrams Books provided us with a copy of Ada Twist, Scientist and a special Ada Twist print signed by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts to share with one lucky reader! You will adore this book if you enjoyed Rosie Revere, Engineer or Iggy Peck, Architect.
From the publisher:
Please enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Ada Twist, Scientist and signed print! Leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite science experiment to do with kids, and then enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter below:
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