Forces

Forces are the effects of objects acting on one another. This might be a breeze stirring a leaf or a jet engine pushing on the air to create a forward thrust.  Or it could be a boffer sword battle.

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May the force be with you.

 

Brainstorm many different ways to use force:

  • pushing
  • pulling
  • tearing
  • smashing
  • twisting
  • floating
  • sinking
  • stopping
  • accelerating
  • changing directions
  • bouncing
  • spinning

Now try some of them out:

Smashing

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Use dough or putty of some kind and squash a ball of it.

  • Where did the force to smash the ball come from?

Pushing

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Push an object like a basket full of books or crayons across a counter top.

  • What direction did the force come from?
  • Where did the force come from?
  • What other forces were acting on the ball? (friction, the counter top pushing up so the object doesn’t fall, air pushing down, gravity pulling down)

Bouncing

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Bounce a ball on a hard floor. Don’t catch it, just watch it slow down.

  • Where did the energy come from to make the ball bounce?
  • What forces were acting on the ball?
  • Why did the ball stop bouncing?
  • What difference is there when you just drop the ball vs. when you throw it down?

Let your kids come up with other demonstrations of the types of force and ask questions about how and why and which forces are working.

Additional Layers

  • Make your own dough for smashing.
  • Sit outside in nature somewhere, in a forest, at the seashore, in your backyard, and watch for forces acting on each other. Which forces are at work?
  • Design an experiment to show how the strength of the force determines the effect on the object.
  • Force fields are a sci-fi invention, like the force field around the spaceship that deflects or blocks laser beams. But discuss how they might work in real life. How could you block or deflect a force. No one has really designed a force field, like in the movies so your theory is as valid as anyone else’s.
  • Some forces have to have contact to work, but others do not. These are called non-contact forces. They include things like magnetism and gravity. Did you know that no one knows what causes gravity? It’s an important force in your everyday life. Imagine and discuss what would happen if gravity suddenly disappeared.

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