This trick from Exploratorium physicist Paul Doherty lets you add together the bounces of two balls and send one ball flying. When we tried this trick on the Exploratorium's exhibit floor, we gathered a crowd of visitors who wanted to know what we were doing. We explained that we were engaged in serious scientific experimentation related to energy transfer. Some of them may have believed us. If you'd like to go into the physical calculations of this phenomenam, see the related resource "Bouncing Balls" - it's the same activity but with the math explained.
In this optics/mathematics activity, learners use two hinged mirrors to create a kaleidoscope that shows multiple images of an object. Learners discover that the number of images reflected in the mirrors depends on the angle between the mirrors. Learners also observe that when they set the hinged mirrors on top of a third mirror, they create a reflector that always sends light back in the direction from which it came. Use this activity to introduce basic principles of light and optics including angle of reflection and angle of incidence.
The Drawing Board consists of a marking pen that remains stationary and a platform that swings beneath the pen, acting as a pendulum. As the platform swings, the pen marks a sheet of paper that is fastened to the platform, generating beautiful repetitive patterns. These colorful designs contain hidden lessons in physics. This resource includes instructions for making a large-scale Drawing Board as well.
In this activity, learners explore scale by using building cubes to see how changing the length, width, and height of a three-dimensional object affects its surface area and its volume. Learners build bigger and bigger cubes to understand these scaling relationships.
Did you know that you would be a different age if you lived on Mars? It's true! In this activity, you'll learn about the different rotation and revolution periods of each of the planets and calculate your age respectively. Included is an astronomy history lesson and explanation of Kepler's Laws of Orbital Motion. The activity has a calculator built into the web page, but the activity can be made more math intensive by using the given data to calculate the learner's age by hand.