A few weeks ago I got to go help with an activity in Jack’s 2nd grade classroom. It was an activity making toys to illustrate force and motion principles they were learning in their science unit. The activity was led by a local man, who was a science teacher and now goes around to schools teaching science through toys.
Since I majored in chemistry in college I am always interested in how teachers use fun activities to show scientific principles, making the lesson more real and fun for the kids. For this lesson the kids all made a clothespin person and a track of parallel bars for him to move on. They used tools to build the track and person and then could decorate them with markers.
The person had a wire for arms that could be moved to change how he moved on the track. Once the kids had completed their set they experimented with how the person moved, by changing the arm position, the angle of the track and the place they applied the force. Our class set up a long chain of tracks and tried racing their guys.
They also created a spool toy that used a rubber band inside as the force to move the spool across the floor. It was fun to see them chase the spools along the floor, learning about how they moved on the floor, some in a straight line and others turning.
It was a fun morning to spend working on science. Jack came home and told Jim all about how it worked and why it would react differently in certain situations.