Monday, August 2, 2010

Preschool Science: Gravity and Weight

How can we explain gravity and weight to young children? Here is a book and an experiment that we did at home to explain why things fall down.

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Why Gravity?

A couple of weeks ago we made a tower of Pisa out of model magic for our Italy country study. One of my blogger buddies Leah from Almost Unschoolers mentioned Galileo experiments that he has supposedly conducted in Pisa. This and some questions from my 3 year old Smarty made me do some research to figure out how to explain gravity to her.

I stumbled upon an excellent book by Vicki Cobb by doing my online research. I Fall Down has several gravty experiments, but they are also wrapped in the story that explains the results and even tackles the difference between mass and weight. I wish I read this book when I was studying physics – it’s a great introduction into the material that was quite intimidating to me.

Predict

One of the experiments was about comparing weights by watching the rubber bands stretch differently depending on the weight of the object. I asked Smarty to predict what happens when we hang two very different shoes from a rubber band. She predicted correctly - papa’s shoe stretched the rubber band a lot more than her own shoe.

Observe

Smarty was so pleased with this experiment that she kept measuring all the shoes in the house until one of the rubber bands finally snapped. We tried to use hair bands then, but found out that they are not stretchy enough to make a significant difference between two shoes - something that at this point is quite hard to explain to her.

Smarty recorded her results in her brand-new “science journal” (ala Sid the Science Kid) – those are three shoes of different sizes hanging from rubber bands. Even Smarty is not really a willing artist, she was very excited about her science journal, and was begging for more experiments, so she could draw in her journal more. This is one good thing about science – it allows to make other things a lot more fun for her, and she doesn’t even know yet that she just performed three steps of scientific method – predict, observe, and record. She is a little too young to explain this particular experiment properly, but I know that we will get there one day.

More Preschool Science?

Follow my Pinterest Board Preschool Science.

If you do a science experiment at home, do you ask your children to write/draw what they observe?

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I am so excited about the book - it's just the sort of thing I was looking for to go with our Newton studies! And, I love the science journal - we're finding a lot of scientists kept them - even if I'm not as in love with Sid, and his subtle anti-homeschooling message :)

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Christy said...

That book looks great. I will definitely be looking for it.

Christy said...

Oh, I love the science journal too!

Kim said...

I'll have to look for that book! Crumpet needed a nature journal after watching an episode of Sid! He loved it very much and then forgot about it - I need to come up with a project and bring out the journal.

Joyful Learner said...

We read that book when JC was younger and I thought they did a pretty good job explaining mass, weight and gravity. We will probably return to it in the future. We don't watch Sid the Science Kid but we do keep a journal that you asked us about. It's been wonderful in recording everything we do. It's also fun to look back on!

Great job with the picture Anna!

Waterdreamer said...

Thanks for the great idea. Our library doesn't have that particular book, but they have others from Vicki Cobb so I'll have to check some of them out.

Kylie said...

Now that sounds like a fabulous book. :)

Ticia said...

I'd be pretty pleased myself if I was her.

And by the way I think Princess has the same shoes as her.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I really need to start introducing more science projects here. My daughter has a science journal from 4K last year, but we haven't done a thing with it this summer. I Fall Down does sound very good. Maybe we'll have to start with that...or maybe not. The library doesn't have it but it looks like they may have others by the same author on different topics. Must be part of a series.

Mari-Ann said...

What a clever experiment - I could see James enjoying this, too. I'll be sure to bookmark it in my reader to use during our upcoming school year.

Mari-Ann

PS: James LOVES Sid the Science Kid, too. :)

MaryAnne said...

Love her science experiment illustration!

Anonymous said...

What a great experiment. I'll have to look for that book. We saw part of a presentation on Newton's laws at the Science Museum last week and it seemed like a good starting point for some experiments.

I love her journal - what a great way to document her findings.

manthe said...

This is a great way to introduce this concept to children.

I wanted to direct you to Teacher Toms link in case you haven't come across it that would go perfectly with what you have introduced. You can read about it here - http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/urge-to-destroy-urge-to-create.html

Sue Lively said...

Fun post to read Natalie. I'm going to try this with my 3 year old as well. He loves anything Science! I will definitely try a journal now with him too. Thanks so much for sharing with the Love to Learn Linky! Best, sue