When many of us think of physics, we think of high-level science courses taught in high school and college. The truth is that not only can you teach your child the basic principles of this branch of science at a young age, but doing so can help them understand the world around them, while laying the groundwork for a continued interest in STEAM learning.
There are many ways to demonstrate basic principles of physics using household objects. However, toys designed for this purpose can be good launching pad for your quest for knowledge.
The new line of marble playsets from VTech, Marble Rush, allows kids to build thrilling marble courses, send marbles into motion and compete in exciting challenges with lights and sounds. Added bonus? You’ll be introducing engineering principles at the same time! Each Marble Rush set contains colour-coded blocks and easy-to-follow building instructions for kids to create a variety of beginner to advanced courses, or create their own course with endless possibilities. The Marble Rush Ultimate Set and Marble Rush Launchpad Set can also be combined to create an extreme playset. Plus, the Marble Rush playsets have received the Toy Association’s STEAM Toy Accreditation seal of approval, meeting experts’ criteria for a good STEAM toy.
Families can find course design instructions, along with super cool challenges that demonstrate specific physics concepts like force and friction, on the VTech website. For more information, visit vtechkids.com/marblerush.
Physics truly is all around us, which means there are always opportunities to introduce concepts while on-the-go. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• At a sporting event: Talk about how the ball flies through the air because of the force the athlete applied to it. Discuss how gravity is at the same time, pulling the ball down toward Earth, and how friction from the air around the ball applies a force that slows it down.
• In the car: The car is the perfect place to demonstrate the Doppler Effect and learn about sound. The next time you drive past music, a car alarm or other source of noise, ask your child to observe the way that it sounds as you get closer to it and then how it sounds as you move away from it again. Explain that the noise itself hasn’t changed, but your perception of it has because sound waves are moving differently from the point of view of the observer -- you.
• On a walk: Brr…it’s cold outside! The next time you’re on a walk, talk about how even the seasons can be explained by physics. The part of Earth where you live is tilted away from the sun right now, which means that sunlight is more indirect. This is also why the days are shorter this time of year!
It’s never too early to bring science to life for kids. There are not only real-world examples of physics at play to discover, but new toys can make learning about these concepts a fun, exciting adventure.