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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Category: Simple Machines

I have noticed over that past month or so that Legos are becoming more popular with Henry and Leo. I have been waiting for this shift for quite a while and I am pleased that the Lego fascination has begun. Don’t get me wrong; the boys are still wrecking the house with their huge plastic cars, bat caves, and super heroes. And Legos aren’t the easiest toy to wrangle and clean up…but at least they inspire a different kind of imaginary play. Dare I say simple science play?
At the end of most Sid the Science Kid activities you can find additional fun things to do with your children related to the science topic of the show. This week I took a look at the suggestions related to Simple Machines and the wheel. There was a wonderful idea to use building blocks to make cars, some with wheels and some without wheels. The object was to race the cars and understand the role that wheels play as simple machines. Fun and simple, just the way I like it!
So, I gave the boys quick instructions and we got to work building cars. Henry worked independently while I teamed up with Leo. The playroom was silent except for the sound of Legos clinking against each other in the bin as we looked for wheels, axels, drivers, and steering wheels. I don’t usually play Legos with the boys, but this time I made sure to give it a try and overcome my fear of Legos. Yes, I said fear. I am afraid that I won’t be able to make anything cool. My brothers were brilliant Lego engineers. I just couldn’t keep up! Thankfully, I get to try again with Henry and Leo.
Henry decided to make a “slanty” racecar. It was a neat concept and we were all eager to see how the car would race. Once Leo and I finished our collaborative effort (he insisted on a slanty car too) we started racing.
I used blue masking tape to mark the distance each car traveled with the wheels on. Then they boys went back to work reconstructing their cars without wheels. We made predictions and raced again. As expected, the cars didn’t travel as far without wheels. Surprisingly though, the cars did manage to move quite well. Henry pulled in other science concepts by remarking, “Mom, it’s about the friction on the tile floor!” Bravo!
Next our investigation took on a new hypothesis. We wanted to learn about the role of wheels, but we also wanted to explore body style and aerodynamics. Would a slanty car be faster or slower than a flat model? Uncharted territory for Sid scientists! Once again, we made predictions and got ready to race. The boys altered their cars again for the next stage of our race. I thought for sure that the flat car would be faster, but what do I know? Henry had a lot of confidence in his slanty model.
And Henry was right! The slanty cars traveled farther than the flat ones. We jumped, whooped, and clapped! I have never had so much fun with Legos! I asked the boys to also think about the weight and steering on their cars as we reexamined the design. All three of us had equally important input and ideas. We really enjoyed the collaborative effort.
Every night at bedtime they boys say something they are grateful for from the day. That night Henry said he was grateful for playing Legos with Mom. Made my heart sing! I guess I can say now that I DO like playing with Legos, especially when it makes my boy so happy.
What are your children’s favorite toys? Can you think of ways to bring simple science into your everyday play? I would love to hear your ideas!

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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