Say the word “Physics” and many adults are transported back to a nightmareish high school memory.
But physics isn’t just for torturing teenagers or reserved for super geniuses. Physics can and should be enjoyed by kids of all ages!
Get their imaginations soaring with this demonstration of simple machines using pulleys.
This can be a risky activity. Please use common sense and caution. Adult supervision is a MUST. Author is not liable for injury, only fun and learning! 😉
A Make-Shift Swing (Optional)
Screw the eye hook into a heavy duty ceiling joist. Attach one end of the pulley and rope system to the eye hook. Make sure the ropes are resting within the pulley channels without tangling.
First have your child try and lift a weight that is heavy but doable for their age. We did ten pounders. My boys thought it would be impossible for them to raise the weight much further than a foot or two.
Using the extra rope, we tied the weight to the hook of the lower pulley. Then we let the boys attempt to raise the weights with the help of the pulleys. The look in their eyes when they could easily raise the weights was priceless!
We then observed that even though it was easier to lift the weights, we had to pull quite a bit more length of rope compared to how high the weight rose from the ground. We had to pull six feet of rope for the weight to rise one foot. We discussed when that’s a good trade off, and when it might not be.
After that, we decided to get really fancy. Using a makeshift swing my dad made from some rope and a thick board, the boys tried lifting each other and then themselves.
(Take extreme caution here. You don’t want anyone to fall or get dropped!)
Little brother couldn’t believe it when he hoisted his big brother “sky high”. Certainly a memorable science experiment.
Get your students excited about STEM. Physics and such a wonderful science for kinetic learners! You’ll be raising little engineers!