The physical sciences have been developed through years of experimentation. From Ben Franklin's iconic kite flying experiments to recent particle collision experiments in Europe's Large Hadron Collider, experiments have always been an important part of work in physics. Because physics depends so much on experimentation, students should learn to do experiments as part of their physics education. There are many simple physics experiments that children can do at home or in the school science lab.
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Solid, liquid and gas are the three states of matter, according to classical physics theory. There is an additional state of matter, known as plasma, but it is rarely encountered outside of the laboratory setting. Physics experiments on states of matter could investigate the freezing and boiling points of liquids, examine the solubility of solids in liquids, or test the effect of placing fat- and/or petroleum-based solutions in water. Freezing and boiling point experiments can be done using liquids, stovetops, pots and refrigerators. Solubility experiments require only two substances and a container.
In physics, motion is explained in precise terms: velocity (rate and direction of change in position), acceleration (change in velocity), displacement (the shortest possible distance between two points) and time. Physics experiments on velocity could test the velocity of various handmade vehicles (e.g. paper planes) by measuring the time between launch and landing with a stopwatch. Experiments on acceleration could measure the distance traveled by a toy car at several intervals under 60 seconds (i.e. by measuring a 10-second run, a 20-second run, a 30-second run and so on).
Electricity is a very important topic in physics and engineering. Electricity is used to power everything from TV sets to train sets to musical instruments. Because of its importance, electricity is an excellent topic for physics science experiments. Popular physics science experiments dealing with electricity include making a circuit with a potato and measuring the electrical conductivity of various substances with an electronic measuring device.
Magnetism is the quality of attraction or repulsion between two objects with different magnetic polarity. Magnetism is a popular subject among young physics students because it is easy to demonstrate. Basic physics experiments with magnets involve testing whether two magnets will repel or attract each other under controlled environmental conditions, such as under water and after being frozen.
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