Wednesday, 29 June 2016

How Things Work Part 1

We are nearing the end of an experiment-filled thematic unit on How Things Work, including understanding simple mechanisms, forces and bionics. 

We began with helicopters.

Helicopters have four basic equal and opposite forces working around them: thrust and drag, lift and weight.

A mini workbook about helicopters.

Fun with spinning tops and colours

We spent a brilliant morning on an adventure as children from this great book about forces:

We worked our way through the book, experimenting with forces as we went.

Without air resistance, all objects fall at the same speed, regardless of weight.



Fulcrum (pivot), load and effort.

Air resistance

Making a compass with a magnet and needle.

We spent an enjoyable morning learning about how to measure wind speed.

Understanding simple mechanisms:

Levers: changing the positions of the pivot, load and effort

Levers make things easier


Turning a force into a forward movement as seen in a screw.

Learning about hydraulics and pneumatics. 


We also learnt about gears, wheels and wedges.

Understanding about aerodynamics with a zappy zoomer.

Learning about high pressure and low pressure.

Air moves: making the ghost flutter even though it is directly behind the bottle.

Centrifugal force

Bionics: when man-made objects copy the natural world.

Polar bear skin is black which traps absorbs heat. Their fur traps this heat. We noticed how the heat lamp warmed up the black polar bear for a longer period of time.

Water repellent material. Some plants have water repellent leaves to self clean. Rain collects in spheres and rolls off along with fungal spores which could damage the plant. We experimented with drops of water falling onto flour dust on wood, plastic and water repellent material.

The zanonia seeds inspired flight enthusiasts to copy their design.

Matching man-made materials with their natural counterparts.

Air vibrations. The kiddies loved this. Air waves are hard to imagine until you see tiny paper tissues pieces jumping around on cling film to a cool bass.

Making duck noises with vibrations from a wet paper towel rubbing on string and amplified with a paper cup.

Listening to fork clanging through string.

Experimenting with sound.

Watching surface tension on water being broken by detergent. We made fish and dabbed detergent on their tails. The detergent broke the surface tension and forced the fish to propel forwards. Lots of happy kiddies with this one.

Learning about the centre of gravity.

Fun with confusing the brain into thinking the bird is in the cage. When the pictures spin too fast the brain cannot separate the two images and so it processes it as one. 

Bridges... best when weight is distributed.

Experimenting with adapting to different temperatures.