Physics is the study of the physical matter of the universe. But usually, it shows up in our textbooks as boring formulas and abstract principles that seem to make no sense in real life.
Think about the last time you used F= MxA. Not since you last gave the physics exam that required you to use it right?
But you must have pushed something heavy recently. While doing so, you might have discovered that it was easier to apply more force if you stood with your legs wide open. Here you don’t change the action you were doing to push the object before, just the way you are standing. This in turn made your action much more effective. This is because this change in stance increased your mass and an increase in mass increased the force you were applying to the object. Simple right?
Physics can be much more fun and exciting if related to real-life instances with various games and activities. This blog enlists a variety of them that can be used in the classroom to bring physics to life.
Interactive games & activities to make learning physics fun
Physics is an important subject that has real-life applications for almost all of our daily actions. So, to make the classes more interesting and these applications more apparent, here is a list of activities that can be used in the classroom:
1. Boat race
For this activity, the class will need to break out into discussion groups of 5-8 students. They will be presented with a fictitious situation of a team on a boating expedition, trying to find its way back to the shore.
The task of the students will be to discuss amongst themselves and find out the physical properties that will be working for and against the boating team like the wave speed, wind direction, speed, direction of the boat, the direction of the water, etc. They will then have to give an estimate of all the factors they think would affect the boating team to create optimum conditions so that the boat can make it to the shore in the least amount of time.
In this activity, the students will learn about various physics principles and their real-life applications through and with each other.
2. Light it up
For this activity, the educator will have to arrange student-safe electrical materials. The task of the students would be to build circuits using every single thing that is given to them in the circuit. The material provided should include regular things required to build an electrical circuit like led bulbs, batteries, wires, switches, etc. with the twist being the inclusion of a potato, an orange, a lime, etc.
By inserting electrodes in the potato, orange, and lime, students will learn the citric acid in the orange and lime and the juiciness inside the potatoes work as conductors.
3. Roller Coaster
For this activity, the educator will have to provide the students with regular classroom crafts materials papers, ice cream sticks, cardboard, glue, tape, etc.
The class will be divided into teams of five to six students each. Their task will be to use these craft materials and design a roller coaster from scratch. The team with the biggest roller coaster structure that marbles can make it out of will win.
This activity will teach the students about various physics concepts like friction, gravity, motion, force, etc.
For this activity as well, the students should be provided with whatever and as much craft material as they require including things like newspapers, ice cream sticks, plastic sheets, straws, etc.
The goal of the students would be to design an object that can stay in the air or float as long as possible. Their floaters can range from paper planes to small parachute-like floaters made out of straw and newspaper. This activity can be done in groups or individually. Whichever design is the last one floating from a drop from the second floor will be declared the winner.
Through this activity, the students will learn various principles of air, wind, aerodynamics, flying, and landing.
5. Set the sails
This is yet another activity that just requires everyday craft supplies like paper, cardboard, pencils, glue, tape, plastic sheet, paper, etc.
The students would be required to use these materials or whatever else they can find to design their own ship. From the sails to the anchor, the more realistic and majestic looking, the better. But, just looks won’t suffice. To win, the ship will have to brave testing waters. The ship to float the longest in the water will be declared the winner. To make the competition tougher, the educator can even see how much weight the ships can hold by adding pennies to each ship. The last ship sailing will be crowned the winner.
This activity will teach students various properties about water, the reason ships and other objects float, the Archimedes Principle, and so on. They will also learn how this applies to real life, more specifically life on and underwater.
6. Increase the friction
This activity will require a remote control car and a clear path or ramp to drive the car on.
The task of the students here will be to come up with various materials and fluids that can be laid on the path of the car. This could include water, sand, juice, fruit pulp, etc. The students will also have to guess which material will make it harder for the car to cross the path and which material will facilitate the car’s movement.
This activity will be instrumental in teaching students about friction and its importance in relation to motion and how it applies to real life like driving a vehicle.
7. Build an arch
For this activity, the educator will have to find 4-5 big and heavy rocks, some thin and bendable steel plates, and a thick board.
The class will be divided into 4 to 5 teams and each team will be given its individual rock to work with. The task of the students here will be to fashion a device using these materials and nothing else that takes their rock at least 5 to 6 inches off the ground.
This activity will teach the students the importance of arches in lifting weights, how they facilitate the same in cars by making arches over the tires, and how even a person can literally walk on eggs when they are in a tray without breaking a single one of them because of this very principle.
8. Make it stick
For this activity, the educator will have to get balloons and newspapers.
The newspaper will be torn into tiny little pieces and spread across the room. The task of the students will be to find a quick and efficient way to pick up all the pieces of paper and clean the room. They can fill the balloon with air, rub it on their heads and use the magic of static electricity to make all the pieces stick to the balloon instead of individually picking them up one by one.
This same principle can be illustrated if they rub their feet on the carpet with socks on and then touch each other’s hand, they will feel a jolt of current. All of this is because of static electricity.
9. Reach for it
For this activity, the educator will have to arrange a wire, a screwdriver, a battery, and an iron or steel ring, earring, bangle, or any other small accessory.
Here the students will be put in a fictitious situation where they have dropped this very important accessory needed to open the door in a place so small that they can’t reach it with their hands. They will be given a 5 minutes timer in which they have to find a way using the material provided to them to pick the ring up and open the door before they are locked inside, forever.
To successfully complete this challenge, the students will make an electromagnet out of the screwdriver by wrapping its metallic part with a wire and then connecting the wire to the battery. This activity will teach them about the properties of regular magnets and electromagnets as well as how to make one.
10. Drinking rainbows
For this activity, the educator will have to arrange 7 to 8 different drinks with different colors and densities.
The task of the students will be to make a drink in such a way that all the 7 to 8 colors of the various drinks put together to make one drink are visible. They will have to figure out in which order they need to pour the drinks so that no two colors get mixed with each other.
The way to complete this activity would be to start with the densest drink which is extremely pulpy and even partly solid. Then move to the second densest and so on until the drink with the least density is poured on top. This will teach the students about various properties of liquids, how density plays out in real life, why sand settles at the bottom of the ocean, and so on.
Physics is the study of what makes up the entire universe. From the smallest of atoms to the biggest of planets and galaxies, all come under the purview of physics. Physics also has applications in our regular lives in almost everything we do which isn’t always apparent from the textbook method of theoretical teaching. This is where including activities and games in the curriculum to teach various concepts and principles can save the day. These activities can include board race, light it up, roller coaster, floaters, setting the sails, increasing the friction, building an arch, making it stick, reaching for it, drinking rainbows, and so on. Furthermore, these activities can also be used for people who have dyscalculia, as they can make the learning process smoother for the students.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,