#babipurSTEM – Newton’s Cradle

Thought I’d have some fun and create a new challenge for Babipur. I have 3 kids and this blog was initially me having fun exploring activities I could do with all 3 of them, so I’m delighted to get back to it!

Being married to a physicist comes in handy when trying to explain stuff to the boys and teamed with my creativity we can think outside the box and use our wooden toys in new ways.

What is a STEM activity?

Science.

Technology.

Engineering.

Maths.

Basically any activity that you can do with your children to demonstrate or help them understand these topics is a win in my book. Figuring out how things work and more importantly why things work in a visual way is the best way for children (and adults) to learn. Learning through play really is the way forward and with STEM activities it’s easy to do.

I thought we’d start with a fairly simple demonstration of momentum and reactions with a nice visual of something most folk are familiar with; Newton’s cradle.

I’ve used the following Grimm’s items;

  • The 3 biggest pieces from the bright and natural tunnel
  • 5 balls
  • The green board from the pastel set
  • Some cotton/string to suspend the balls

You can use anything though if you fancy recreating this. Cereal boxes will work well for the sides and a stick across the top would do the job brilliantly. My husband even suggested a giant version with footballs hung between chairs, it’s a good one to get creative with!

Using balls of an even size and weight is kind of crucial though. Tennis/golf balls would be a good substitute.

The lesson…

Newton’s cradle demonstrates a conservation of momentum and that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

You swing one ball and it hits the adjacent one and so on and on. This force passes along the line to the last one which ricochets off creating the swinging visual effect we all know. If you check out the video you’ll see if you swing two balls the force is increased therefore the two balls on the opposite end will swing.

It’s great for kids to see the force literally travel across from one side to the other.

Get the kids involved!

  • Ask them what they think will happen?
  • Do the activity.
  • Then discuss what happened and explain to them why if the outcome was different than expected.
  • Do the activity again changing something.

For example;

  • My boys thought all the balls would swing when one of them hit the line.
  • They took turns swinging one of the outer balls to see what would happen.
  • When we watched the videos back they were amazed to see why just the last one swung. We explained that the force from the first ball travelled along the line until it could be released in the last one.
  • We did it again swinging two balls and they correctly suspected the opposite two balls would swing.

The challenge…

Get stuck in! This week will be about momentum and reaction. I’ve made it deliberately nice and open so you can all get creative and have some fun!

Please use the tag; #babipurSTEM on Instagram or Facebook in the Babipur Hangout and post a picture or video of something you think fits the bill. It doesn’t have to use Babipur goodies but I think you’ll manage to incorporate some of them somewhere, as that’s the perk of open ended toys!

I’m thinking;

  • Vehicle fun
  • Skittles
  • Tower demolition
  • Wobbel action
  • So many possibilities!

Next Friday I’ll choose a winner and they’ll receive a set of Grimm’s Balls from Babipur in a colour way of their choosing!

Please also pop a comment below if you’re going to join in, the more the merrier!

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