Sunday, April 2, 2017

How Did We Explore the Concepts of Physics in Kindergarten?

Physics in Kindergarten? Absolutely!  This is why play is so important in Early Childhood Education! How else could children begin to have a basic concept of how physics works unless they have a chance to explore and experiment with it freely. Future knowledge of these concepts will be built upon the foundational knowledge developed from these playful experiences.

I had come up with the idea when I had noticed that while exploring through super heroes the kids were very engaged in the catapults and exploring motion.

They also were starting to create ramps in our Maker's Space and asking for marbles and balls to roll down them.  I thought this would evolve into an inquiry on simple machines, so I set up some experiences for them to explore screws, inclined planes and levers.

It was not easy getting those screws into the wood!  They were really building up some much needed fine motor muscles!

Here they could explore with inclined planes and see how the angle affects the motion of the object rolling down the plane.

At the Lego table they were challenged to create a maze and then figure out how they could move the marble through the maze. They needed to create an inclined plane to make it move.

They explored motion and gravity through creating art by dripping paint and seeing how the angle made the paint go down quickly.

They explored motion through inclined planes by creating marble paintings by dropping paint on their paper and rolling a marble through it.

They explored levers by using catapults and different objects to predict and then find out which object the catapult would throw the furthest.

Here they are measuring and comparing lengths to show how far each object was catapulted.

I set out a marble run to explore.  They loved this!  Many became frustrated and had to figure out how to get their marble run to stand by itself.  They enjoyed seeing how high they could make them and watching the motion of the marbles as they went through each part. This area was such a big hit, I decided to show them a video of a Rube Goldberg Machine. This is when our inquiry started to go in a different direction.

Rube Goldburg Machines are so fun to watch and create!  Here is the link to the video that I showed the class that inspired them for the rest of this inquiry! You have to watch it!  You will love it! Once they saw this, all they wanted to do was create Rube Goldberg Machines!  They started out simple, but then when I added the ramps to the building area, they got very creative when using both old and new materials to create more complex machines. We continued to watch other videos of Rube Goldberg Machines for inspiration.

The friend below had to figure out how to keep the marble on his track.  He figured out he needed a boundary on each side.

They learned very quickly that Rube Goldberg Machines never worked the first time, and usually not the second or third time either.  When I was watching them, I was so proud because even though it was frustrating for them, they showed true grit and continued to problem solve until they could get it to work.

Below, this friend had to figure out why the corks did not fall as the dominos did.  He ended up using a math manipulative we have with the properties of a domino that was thinner and would knock over easier.

The teamwork and collaboration amazed me.  They worked together and listened to each others idea. When the machine did not work, they worked together to figure it out! Noticing the attributes of the dominos, the group below created the domino effect using blocks and tunnels.


Can you see the collaboration and teamwork in the pictures below?

In the next pictures, this group of girls were trying to create a machine using dominos and cubes.  I love how they created decorations around and within their machine. When they were done, they wanted to take a video to show the class. We took the video but ran into a problem.  The dominoes did not fall.  They had to stop and figure out what went wrong.  They were so disappointed because they had worked on it for a good 30 minutes, but after the initial feeling of disappointment, I saw that that they have learned how to handle disappointment.  They decided right away they would try again the next day.

We showed the video to the class and they helped them figure out why it didn't work. We also watched a video that showed a giant domino run so they could observe how it worked.

The next day, they spaced the dominos based on what they learned so they would have room to fall and hit the next one.  It took them almost 45 minutes because they kept falling down before they were finished.  Again, they handled their frustration and persisted. This time they were successful!  Both videos of the failed one and successful one can be found on my Instagram account darlamyersclass.  You have to check out their reactions when they succeeded! All that work was worth it for them!

This friend below was exploring how both speed and angles affect motion.  He had to figure out the incline of the tube to get the marble to be fast enough to hit an angled block hard enough to change direction and then hit the rock.  He kept trying and trying, adjusting both the incline, the angle of the block and the rock each time until he was successful!  The look of accomplishment in their eyes was so wonderful to see!  They were all so proud of their creations.

So do you think play is just play anymore?  Can you see the complex skills they are developing that they will need in order to succeed in school and in their future careers?  Can you see some of foundational skills being laid for physics, and geometry here? Some of their most important learning comes through play!

That being said, we also have been working hard in math and literacy!  We have been studying fairy tails to help us with our story comprehension and retelling skills.  The experience below offered them an invitation to retell the Three Little Pigs.

They also loved writing their own versions of the fairy tales we read which showed such great thought and imagination!  Some of their books spanned across six pages! We also had a STEM challenge where they had to develop and write a plan to build a house using nothing by index cards and masking tape that would be strong enough to withstand the "Big Bad Blow Dryer!" Then they had to follow their plan. They had a lot of fun with this!  We gathered and tried them all out and discussed what attributes the houses that blew away or stayed put had in common. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the houses!

 Stay tuned for next time when we find out what the kids will be interested in exploring next.


  1. Wow, great to see kids would get to know the concept of physics from early age that would surely create interest of kids in science. Good post

  2. It is very important to teach little children through play. They learn things very fast and in a better way. The techniques of learning you have shared are best for little learners.

  3. I love your blog and the sense of wonder and exploration you inspire! Thanks for sharing!!!