Even more fun than catapults!
Today's Topic: Pendulums (or Wrecking Balls!)
large, shallow container (optional)
regular-height tables (instead of our usual short ones)
Bam, bam, bam / Merriam, Eve
The inspiration for this class (or "what I thought kids might do"):
Teacher Tom's Pendulum Play
wrecking ball block play
knocking down cups
hang a pendulum from the ceiling
What Kids Do:
--tie various kinds of balls to the ends of strings that were taped to tabletops and swing them back and forth
Poke a hole in the bottom of one pendulum-strung cup, fill it with sugar, then let it swing over a sheet of black paper. Watch the pattern emerge! (sort of like this)
But of course, the most fun was the giant beach ball (really it was the sun from this set which used to hang in our children's book area) that I hung from the ceiling. It needed to be reattached a few times until I figured out how to anchor it reliably, but the kids loved swinging that huge pendulum and knocking down tall towers of boxes.
Hindsight Tip: The inspiration for the ceiling-hung pendulum came from this post but I was glad I'd chosen not to use a tennis ball for our class after seeing how the kids interacted with the ball. This big, ol' softy was perfect. No matter how hard you try to throw this "wrecking ball" at someone, you just can't hurt them, but it was still big enough and heavy enough to knock over a tower of empty cardboard boxes.
Variations to try:--If we were doing this project outdoors, it would be fun to try the paint variant!
--From Teaching STEM in the Early Years, p. 26 -- use a magnet stick as a pendulum and scatter a variety of metal objects (paper clips, etc.) on the ground beneath the pendulum. Swing the magnet and watch it pick things up!
I was thrilled to be able to introduce the kids (and grown-ups) to KAPU Blocks, which encourages creative tower building and includes a wrecking ball when you're ready to build a different tower. Perfect for today's lesson!