Physics Play Date

Miriam, our physics specialist is back for a few weeks at The Little Explorers Activity Club working on her thesis and we have a series of one to one playdates planned and this was the first of many more to come.

“I have an idea, let´s time how fast the cars can go with the stop watch.  How does it work?”

Dominic was excited and very happy to see the theme was all about his favourite cars ‘Hot Wheels’.   Miriam had made beautiful signs and instructions for him all adorned with these brightly coloured racing cars.  She explained to him how to work the stop watch, the car whizzed down the drainpipe track and hit the monkey cushion at the end and wrote the name down and the time.


speed 6

This process introduced an important method of how scientists get their data in labs everyday: Have an idea of what you want to discover, think about how to find it out, set up an experiment and measure.

speed 3

“Now we can measure the weight, we need it to be flat though.” Dominic gestured over to the kitchen scales that was sitting rather lopsided on the grass bank and as he tried to read the weight it wouldn’t work, being out in nature sometimes does have it’s complications.  It was soon remedied by using the cardboard box so all was well again and a good lesson in problem solving.

I was impressed with how thoughtful and inquisitive he was, how motivated but of course it all made sense, the motivation was within the activity, his racing cars.  I had looked at those cars with him at my computer, he longed for more even though his collection was already impressive, ‘this is the one I want for my birthday’ he would say ‘and this, oh actually this one…’

Physics in the Movement Method was the opposite of physics I remember at school from a text book.  Today it was all about investigating by doing, problem solving and figuring out how the world is working. The ‘Drop it’ phase was through little laminated signs with pictures and keywords hidden in the garden. ‘Do it’ was all the investigating, measuring and experiments, looking at acceleration, speed, momentum, air resistance…

speed 2

His sister Zara came over and Dominic asked her which car is faster.  She explained it is because of the mass and Miriam said she thought it is because of the air. With these two statements and the tablet they went back to the house to find out more and watched the video about a ball and a feather falling simultaneously in a room without air.  Zara suggested to let play dough fall like in the video.   But Dominic couldn´t really believe that it was just because of air and suggested it could be because there is no gravity, Miriam mentioned that it is on the earth and that there is gravity everywhere on the earth.  Hearing all these discussions made me smile as I went to the kitchen to make some tea.

From the decking I could see more fun and games with the wheelbarrow, teaching the children about forces and mass.  Dominic and Zara climbed in, Miriam pushed them around the garden.  They pointed at the signs that had been set up in the bushes and read what it said. “There is a snail and it says slow down.” Miriam pushed very slowly. ‘There is another one saying reduce mass.’ They threw pillows out of the wheelbarrow to reduce the mass, Miriam pushed faster and said that it is so much easier to push the lighter wheelbarrow.  They laughed and giggled and wanted to do it all over again.

speed 4

Then a new game of Hide and Seek began which caught Iris’s attention.  She had been sitting quietly observing the session from her comfy swing chair, able to soak it in without any pressure.  ‘Hurray’ she cried as Dominic found his sister.

Iris chilling

After some more research on the computer in the shade under the trampoline which allowed for some chilled quiet time aswell as some reading and spelling practice they got up on top and had a bounce counting as they went.  Back into the wheelbarrow again for more sign hunting and after that making ramps for the Hot Wheel cars.

‘Thank you, that was so good, I loved it, I want to do this again.  Look I made a ramp with paper and they really really jumped!” He bounced around the garden and we all felt like jumping with him.  It had been an incredibly successful morning of learning about physics, maths, English and some P.E too but most of all it was inspiring for all of us.  This is how teaching should be, we should feel energised and happy afterwards with an eagerness to learn more.

Tomorrow we have the next stage ‘Confirm it’ it’s the Movement Method’s version of the Friday test but I think you get the picture by now this will not be any ordinary boring test at a table in silence, this will be filled with fun & adventure, a treasure hunt.  Can’t wait !

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