Here’s a fun project to make that will help teach physics. Make an inertia zoom ball!
In the winter time here in Minnesota, we make a lot of trips to the library and do a lot of indoor projects. This project is one that we got from a book in our current library pile, Gizmos and Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why) (affiliate link) by Jill Frankel Hauser.
I highly recommend the book to supplement your science studies. You should be able to get the book through your library or local book store, or online at Amazon.
We adapted it somewhat to use materials we had on hand.
The zoom ball demonstrates the first law of motion (also known as the law of inertia), that says that an object requires force to move and once it’s going it won’t stop unless it’s made to by another force.
Here’s a short video of one of ours in action.
Here’s what you need:
- Two 1 quart plastic soda bottles
- Masking tape or duct tape (we used colorful duct tape)
- Decorations (optional)
- Two 12 foot strings (be sure it’s heavy duty string)
- Two plastic rings from a six-pack holder (optional)
Here’s what you do:
- With an adult’s help, cut the bottoms off two soda bottles and insert one into the other to make a football shape.
2. Thread both strings through the neck (it may help to take the bottles apart at this step). We used our four foot tall daughter to easily measure 12 feet of string (math!).
3. Tape the seam and decorate if you like.
4. Cut the six-pack holders to make two loops for handles. Tie these to the strings. If you do not use six-pack holders, loop your string and tie it to form a handle. This is what we did, but I recommend finding six-pack holders to make it easier on your hands.
How to use your zoom ball:
Stand at one end of a room and have your partner stand at the other. Make sure the string is tight between you. Spread your arms out fast to send the ball zooming towards your partner. Your partner will keep her hands close together until the ball zooms near, then quickly yank the strings outward to send it zooming back to you.
Note: This rapped our knuckles sometimes when it hit our hands and stung a bit! We didn’t have six-pack rings so that may make a difference. We learned quickly to anticipate the ball and put our arms out to zoom it back before it got all the way to our hands. Another option would be to wear gloves!
We also found that in our small house, 12 feet was a lot of string. We may try shortening ours.
This was a quick, creative, easy, educational project that ended up leading to lots of laughter and fun at our house. Give it a try!
This article originally appeared on examiner.com.
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