Physics Unit: Gizmos, Gadgets, and Simple Machines

We have been gearing up for these activities for a long time.  Back in January I mentioned the kids read the Physics, Pre-Level 1 (Real Science-4-Kids) book. LD read it on his own while I read it together with DD. I thought it was a wonderful introduction to some basic physics concepts. Then as you’ve seen we did some background activities on Newton himself (the geography of England/Britain/UK; the Black Plague). We’re currently reading a book about him as well (Isaac Newton (Giants of Science) (affiliate link) which the kids love… Did you know Newton stuck things (his finger, a needle, other sharp objects) into his own eye to see what colors or changes in vision the pressure produced?).  But THIS is what the kids have truly been waiting for… lots of hands-on physics fun!

In 1665, the university Newton was attending shut down due to an outbreak of the Plague.  Newton spent the next two years at home and made some incredible discoveries. He extended the binomial theorem, invented calculus and discovered the law of universal gravitation. He also made some discoveries about white light.  Without saying much more than this, I sent the kids outside with a crystal to see what Newton might have discovered.  LD figured it out immediately, but it took some prodding before DD said (in a very frustrated voice) “all I see is rainbows.”  “Yes, yes, yes!” LD went on to explain to her, “white light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow.”



Some other activities we did this week were from Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work  (affiliate link) and from Be a Kid Physicist (affiliate link) (by William Wellnitz).


Newton’s first law,  the law of inertia, states that without a force like a push or a pull, an object won’t move.  We made the ‘zoom ball’ from Gizmos and Gadgets and discovered how to move our plastic ‘ball’ back and forth.


We looked more into the Law of Inertia as the kids made also straw ramps. The kids spent time sending the balls down the ramp. Then they lined up marbles at the bottom of the ramp and sent one rolling into it.  They discovered how energy was transferred through the non-moving marbles to the last marble which rolled away. They were so fascinated by this that they lined up more and more marbles to see how many there could be in a row and still transfer the energy to that last marble to make it move.



From Jan. 25:

Right now LD is reading Real Science 4 Kids’ Physics book Level I Physics (affiliate link), while I’m reading those same chapters aloud to DD. That’s because we’ll be doing some hands-on stuff in a couple of weeks and I want them to have finished the book before we do the experiments and activities. I have both pre-level 1 and Level 1.  Pre-level 1 is definitely better for DD (age 6). It’s written in very simple terms.  I think LD would be fine with either level, but I’m having him read the Pre-level 1 on his own. He is really enjoying it. Then we may add in the next level when we actually do our activities.

Related Posts:

Don’t miss the Simple Machines Packet I made or the other hands-on activities we did in connection with this unit:

Other Hands-On Activities from Our Simple Machines Unit:

 Other Science Packets and Materials That Might be of Interest:

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2 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    You know, I realize as I look at your post, that I have no marbles around for the kids to try and use…must get some!!

  2. Julie says:

    You know, I realize as I look at your post, that I have no marbles around for the kids to try and use…must get some!!

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