May 26, 2017

Science in the playground and the amusement park

Roller Coaster Science: 50 Wet, Wacky, Wild, Dizzy Experiments about Things Kids Like Best
by Jim Wiese

Wiese takes science out of the lab and into the playground in this optimistic book. He aims to get kids to ask questions about how things work and hopefully shows how science can give them the answers. So he's put together a bunch of activities that can be done on slides, swings, seesaws, and merry-go-rounds. 

These are real multitasking tests! He somehow thinks that kids can remember if they're sliding down the outer or inner curve of a slide and keep track of how many times they swing back and forth. Similarly, he challenges kids to note the size of the hills and the circles while riding a roller coaster, figure out their direction of travel while on the scrambler, and when in a bumper car, know which collisions cause them to move forward or backward. These observations are meant to demonstrate things like pendulums, centripetal force, impulse, and velocity. These lessons will, however, be undoubtedly lost during the thrill of the moment.

Wiese has more success in explaining how toys like paper planes, slinkies, and paddleballs work, why popcorn pops, and how cotton candy is made. Instructions for making a g-force meter, a paper helicopter, and a solar hotdog cooker are included.

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