Experiments for Kids

These hands-on experiments are meant to be done in classrooms or at home.  They all follow the same format, which includes a worksheet that guides the student to some self discovery about the concept, followed by an experiment that can be done with common household items.  Each experiment is heavy on video instructions.  The experiments try to be more than just demonstration activities.  Some stress data collection and improving measurements, while others focus on graphing results and interpreting data.  The best way to use them is with a good deal of discussion along the way.    

They are listed here in the order I recommend doing them.  Some go well together, but there are no rules.  Choose the ones that work for your situation.

Prior to doing the experiments, read this short introduction to units:


ExperimentLinks  Notes
 


1) Density of Solids




 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary: 
a) Measure and calculate densities of common objects and predict if they will float.  Calculate volumes for cube, cylinder, and sphere.
b) Longer worksheet that stresses the idea of a ratio and why ratios are useful.  Introduces density and relates it to why things float.

Special Requirements:
a) Best if done as the first of three experiments with Density of Liquids and Viscosity.
 


2) Density of Liquids





 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary: 
a) Introduces concepts of fluids and density.
b) Stress is on how to measure density, how a hydrometer works, and has them make a simple hydrometer.

Special Requirements:
a) Best if done as the second of three experiments with Density of Solids and Viscosity.
 


3) Viscosity



 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary: 
a) Introduces the concept of viscosity.
b) Shorter worksheet.  Emphasis on measuring viscosity and the experiment.

Special Requirements:
a) Best if done as the third of three experiments with Density of Solids and Density of Liquids.
 


4) Pressure vs Depth




 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary: 
a) Introduces the concept of pressure and why it changes with depth.

Special Requirements:
a) Best if done as the first of two experiments with Atmospheric Pressure.
 


5) Atmospheric Pressure



 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary: 
a) Shorter worksheet that builds on Pressure vs Depth experiment.  Emphasis is on graphing the results, selecting appropriate scale for the axes, plotting points, and using a best fit line to determine a value beyond the range measured.

Special Requirements:
a) Requires a smartphone and a free app to access the phone's sensors.
b) Requires a flight of stairs, minimum of one story, but more is better.
c) Best if done as the second of two experiments with Pressure vs Depth.
 


6) Work & Power

 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary:
a) Introduces the concepts of work and power.

Special Requirements:
a) Requires a flight of stairs.
 


7) Period of a Pendulum


 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary:
a) Introduces the concepts of equilibrium and periodic motion, including the terms period and amplitude.
b) Real emphasis of this experiment is on taking measurements and reducing measurement errors.
c) For really advanced students, there is a follow up activity that involves using a spreadsheet program to fit a curve and verify the formula for the period of a pendulum (to do this we use the fact that a square root is the same as raising something to the 0.5 power).

Special Requirements:

 

8) Forces, Torque, and Mechanical Advantage




 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary:
a) Introduces the concepts of simple machines and mechanical advantage.
b) Has them make a simple spring scale and balance to measure torque.

Special Requirements:

 


9) Sound


 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary:
a) Introduces the idea of standing waves, nodes, and anti-nodes.
b) Follow up activity includes making a graph and finding the slope of a best fit line.

Special Requirements:
a) Requires a smartphone and a free app that generates tones.  A set of tuning forks could be used instead of the smartphone/app combo.
b) Requires careful listening and a quiet environment.  For classroom settings, may be best if you can use a large multipurpose room or have some students go outside.
 


10) Centripetal Force


 



Teacher Guide Link
Appropriate Grade Levels:  

Time Required:

Summary:
a) Introduces the concepts of inertia and centripetal force.
b) Follow up activity includes making a graph and finding the slope of a best fit line.

Special Requirements:
a) Requires swinging something around over head.  For classroom settings, may be best if you can use a large multipurpose room or have some students go outside.


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