Physics project ideas
Physics project ideas, fun activities for home for the 11 to 14 age range (see also physics at home for 14-16). Lots of fun learning activities, animations and videos, all recommended by the Institute of Physics.
Activities are from trusted sources (E.g. IOP) and have been safety-checked, but please ensure you do your own risk assessments for any of the practical based activities.
These ideas might help provide ideas for constructive activities for students working from home (Eg during the current period of closure, home-schooling or during holidays). They are divided by topic so can be easily linked to the topics you are studying. I hope you enjoy these…
Forces (types and effects) ideas
● Marvin and Milo: Loop the loop, Head hanger, Unbalanced balloons
● Hooke’s law PhET Hooke’s law; Masses and Springs: Basics – ‘Stretch’ tab
● PhET Forces and Motion: Basics
● Balanced forces – Veritasium Falling Slinky; Marvin and Milo Slinky drop
Forces (motion) ideas
● Calculating speed based on changes in distance (tape measure) and time (stopwatch on phone). Model cars on ramp, pets, falling cup-cake cases for terminal velocity etc.
● Parachutes or balloon-powered cars from ExpeRImental could be great sources of data for calculations. See also the simulation, Moving Man at PhET
|Click to Run|
Forces (gravity, pressure)
● Cannon ball and feather drop; BBC Human Universe with Brian Cox – misconception about falling objects
● Make a three hole bottle (teacher notes – question) and investigate relationship between distance and depth of water, time taken etc (teacher notes – answer)
● PhET Under Pressure, Marvin and Milo e.g., Collapsing bottle, Mushrooming marshmallows
● Floating and sinking Marvin and Milo Floating egg, All change
● Use the attracting can activity to introduce why charged objects exert forces on uncharged objects. Also see Static Magic video at ExpeRImental followed by this Balloons and Static Electricity PhET simulation
● Marvin and Milo – Static UFO; On a Roll; Forceful Comb, Static Spinning Straw, with 2 charged straws to show repulsion
Magnetism and Electromagnetism
● Explore fridge magnets and toys Marvin and Milo Moody magnets
● From Catalyst Iron from cornflakes
● PhET Magnets and Electromagnets is a good start and Faraday’s Electromagnetic lab covers nearly all of Electromagnetism for those that want to go further.
● Marvin and Milo Bottle Orchestra and Musical Coathangers (which also works with roasting racks!)
● Use soundmeter apps to learn about the effect of distance and insulating materials on amplitude. There is a free to download ‘software oscilloscope’ at https://www.zeitnitz.eu/scope_en (uses your computer’s sound card) which could be the next step.
● Dancing Sprinkles shows that a loud sound is capable of making small grains jump. You can use it to introduce the idea that sound is a vibration of the air.
● You can measure the speed of sound using two smartphones with the PhyPhox app. Watch the video here and download the app at phyphox.org
● Make a pinhole camera – Pringles tubes make good ones – hole in the metal end, greaseproof under plastic cap, foil removed
● Law of reflection – The Physics Classroom Who can see who?
● Refraction – PhET Bending light and The Physics Classroom Refraction and lenses
● Coloured surfaces in coloured light – The Physics Classroom Stage Lighting
● Marvin and Milo Deceptive CD for colour addition, make your own rainbow – Garden Rainbow
● PhET My Solar System
● Size of the universe Magnifying the universe simulation, IOP video The scale of the universe, The powers of ten video, Planet separation to scale Toilet paper solar system (can also be done with string!)
● IOP videos Phases of the Moon, Models of the Solar System – Earth, Sun and Moon
● Project-based – PEEP has lots of useful info for this sort of thing which can be matched to student interests:
Climate change, Energy resources, Transport, Public Health, Medical Physics, Weapons, Space, Communications, People, Robotics
If you have tried any of these, please leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share any online resources that might be interesting/fun for this age group.