Friday, July 26, 2013

Facilitating Physics Play at DCM

You don't have to be a physicist to explore the concepts of physics at DuPage Children's Museum (DCM). You just need the right materials for exploration and discovery!  Some concepts of basic physics involve exploring motion, gravity, friction, and speed while using simple machines such as wheels, gears, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, screws, and levers. The exhibits in Make it Move (MIM) at DCM were developed so that children could explore some concepts of basic physics while playing with simple machines. As children play with the exhibits in MIM, they can begin to intuitively understand some of these concepts and, with the support of their grown-up play partners, learn the vocabulary to describe them.   Take note of the words in bold below—there are many words that can be used to describe simple machines and some basic concepts in physics.

Gear Table
Children can discover that a gear is a wheel with teeth that can interlock and turn another gear. They may also notice the ratio between a bigger and smaller gear.

Cam Ball Lifter
While playing at our Cam Ball Lifter, children may observe camswheels or gears with an offset axle used to make something happen in a specific order. The cam lifts the ball towards the funnel for increasingly great energy in motion for the awaiting ramps.

Ramps & Rollers
There are lots of opportunities to discover that ramps are inclined planes. If a ball is let go at the top of the slope, the grade of the ramp can help initiate the speed of the ball.  A ramp is a simple machine that does work for us. When constructing with ramps and rollers, children can get a visual representation of using force and velocity!

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