Physics Activities

Air Pressure: Index Card 

This activity helps children explore air pressure. Children will fill a plastic cup with water, place an index card on the cup and flip the cup over, noting how the air pressure at sea level is high enough to keep the index card against the cup despite the weight of the water.

Experiment details can be found here

Air Takes Up Space

In this activity, a paper towel in a cup submerged open end down in water is used to demonstrate that air actually occupies space and will exert pressure against the water it is submerged in to keep the paper towel dry.

Experiment details can be found here.

Balancing a Potato

Using a table, a small potato, and a fork and a pencil inserted into either side of the potato, kids will try to balance the potato on the edge of the table. Following this activity, a discussion about the center of gravity will help children understand the activity. Experiment details can be found here. Source: Kids Fun Science.

Crafty Colors

After writing on a paper with both blue and red crayon, kids will cover the paper with red transparent plastic wrap. This activity can demonstrate the effect of light through a filter and lead into a discussion about perceptions of color and light. We like the experiment, but test your materials. Not all combinations work well. Experiment details can be found here

Source: Forbes, E., Hale, J. and Christianson, C. Creative Kids: Simple Science Fun. California: Teacher Created Resources, 2010. eBook.

Egg Strength

Using raw eggs, children will explore the strength of an emptied half eggshell and discuss the effect shape/geometry have on strength of construction. 

Experiment details can be found at Science Fair Adventures here

It's a Solid...It's a Liquid...It's Oobleck

Always a HUGE hit at festivals. Children can explore this non-Neutonian solid for a discussion on liquids and solids, viscosity and pressure. See full activity here: Scientific American: Bring Science Home

Liquid Layers

Kids will pour seven liquids of varying density in order of decreasing density and note the separation of layers.

Experiment details can be found at Steve Spangler Science here

Mentos-Diet Coke Geyser

Requires only Mentos, pop, and a bottle. Instructions are reproduced all over the internet. Our favorite is the Myth Busters site because they explain the science. A detailed experimental protocol can be found at Steve Spangler Science here.  You can create great shows by lining up different types of soda pop in different size bottles and releasing different numbers of Mentos into each at different times.

Straw Wheels

A comparison of effort needed to push a book across the table with or without straw rolling wheels underneath can lead to a discovery of friction and resistance.

Experiment details can be found on Hub Pages here