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Physics

Classroom Activities


Atomic Theory

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Particle Puzzle Pieces," students learn about some of the elementary particles in the Standard Model by building a proton and neutron from quarks. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Forces of Nature," students study about the four fundamental forces and the interactions they govern. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "A New Building Block?," students learn about a new theoretical fundamental unit -- a string -- and explore how its vibrational pattern indicates the particle it is. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Deducting Dimensions," students visualize a universe with fewer than three spatial dimensions and consider how more than three spatial dimensions could exist in the universe. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Detective Work," students find out how to interpret particle interactions captured in one type of detector, a bubble chamber. Grades 9-12.

Ghost Particle, The
In "Black Box Mystery," students collect evidence to make inferences about an object hidden inside a sealed box. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Hitler's Sunken Secret
In "Heavy Water Goes Down," students use a viewing guide while watching a program about heavy water production by Nazi Germany during World War II and discuss answers to their questions after watching. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives
In "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives," students use an online interactive to investigate the double-slit experiment and research historical conflicts involving scientific theories. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Race to Catch a Buckyball
In "Building a Buckyball," students construct a paper model of the 60-carbon-atom Buckyball. Grades 6-8.

Science Odyssey, A: Origins
In "The Dating Game," simulate radioactive decay and determine half-life to understand the concept and its use in determining the age of materials. Grades 6-8, 9-12.


Energy

Car of the Future
In "Your City's Car of the Future" student teams research and develop a proposal to decrease the carbon footprint of their city's public transportation system through the use of various new technologies and/or alternative fuels. Grades 6-8, 9-12

Einstein Revealed
In "What's Your Wavelength," students investigate the wavelength properties of visible light. Grades 6-8.

Einstein Revealed
In "Seeing the Invisible," students do three small experiments to explore radiant energy. Grades 6-8.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "A Trip to Pluto," students consider the meaning of E = mc2 by examining how much of different kinds of fuel would be required to make an imaginary trip to Pluto. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "Energy's Invisible World," students explore the meaning of E in E = mc2 by investigating the nature of fields and forces at different stations in the classroom. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "Squaring Off With Velocity," students investigate the meaning of c2 in E = mc2 by measuring the energy delivered by an object falling at different velocities. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "A New Building Block?," students learn about a new theoretical fundamental unit -- a string -- and explore how its vibrational pattern indicates the particle it is. Grades 9-12.

Escape! Because Accidents Happen -- Fire
In "Up to Code?," students research and analyze fire safety strategies in public and private buildings. Grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12.

Fire Wars
In "Where Growth Meets Growth," students identify risk factors for a property located near a wildland area. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Fire Wars
In "Fire Season Statistics," students extrapolate information and further questions for investigation from year 2000 fire season statistics. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Lightning!
In "Indoor Lightning," students observe the spark effect of static electricity. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Lost on Everest
In "Keeping Warm," students test how effectively common clothing fabrics insulate against cold and consider the technological design of different fabrics. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Origins: Back to the Beginning
In "Elemental Puzzler," students learn about the elements and their roles in the universe. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Origins: Where are the Aliens?
In "Mission: The Search for Life," students learn how planetary spectra can be used to search for life on other worlds and analyze a mystery planet ís spectrum for potential signs of life. Grades 9-12.

Saved By the Sun
In "Got Sun? Get Cooking!" students follow a seven-step invention process to design, build, and test a solar cooker that will pasteurize water. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Vikings in America
In "Making the Case," students debate the theory that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones may cause people to develop cancer. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Volcano's Deadly Warning
In "Sine Wave Science," students explore constructive and destructive interference of sine waves and plot a complex wave. Grades 9-12.

Wave That Shook the World
In "Tracking Tsunamis," students calculate approximate speeds and travel times for three sample tsunamis. Grades 6-8, 9-12.


Flight

Aircraft Carrier!
In "Moving Targets," students use a ball and wastebasket to simulate some of the difficulties of landing on a moving target. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

B-29 Frozen in Time
In "Arctic Engineering," students follow problem-solving techniques used by scientists in the program and generate strategies for improving upon the scientists' solutions. Grades 6-8.

Crash of Flight 111
In "Piecing It All Together," learn about the techniques and reasoning used to determine the cause of the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Daredevils of the Sky
In "Daredevils of the Classroom," students design and experiment with the size, shape, angle of the wings, rudder position, and weight of a paper airplane. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Daring Flight, A
In "BlÈriot's Inventions," students analyze the evolution of designs that led up to the invention of the BlÈriot XI, the first plane to cross the English Channel. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Fast Cars
In "Slow Riders," students practice using the scientific method to design a helicopter that falls as slowly as possible. Grades 6-8.

Faster Than Sound
In "Lift Off!," students see a demonstration of the Bernoulli Effect. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

MARS Dead or Alive
In "Slowing Things Down," students investigate three variables affecting a parachute's rate of descent and then design a parachute that will descend as slowly as possible. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Spies That Fly
In "Small, Smaller, Smallest," students downsize an aircraft to understand some of the challenges associated with building extremely small vehicles. Grades 6-8.

Supersonic Dream
In "Fueling the Burn," students investigate how fuel use affects the mass of different planes during flight and determine the per person fuel cost of a transatlantic flight for seven airplanes. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Top Gun Over Moscow
In "Paper Warriors of Flight," students design paper airplanes to meet different flying objectives. Grades 6-8.

Wings of Madness
In "Winging It," students experiment with a paper airplane model to determine how various wing angles affect flight characteristics. Grades 6-8.

Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
In "What's Wing Warping?," students test the effects of wing warping by manipulating the leading and trailing edges on the wings of a paper airplane. Grades 6-8, 9-12.


Gravity and Forces

Aircraft Carrier!
In "Moving Targets," students use a ball and wastebasket to simulate some of the difficulties of landing on a moving target. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Avalanche!
In "Slip Sliding Away," students layer materials to mimic the strong and weak layers within a snowpack and then cause an avalanche to occur. Grades 6-8.

Building Big: Bridges
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Dams
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Domes
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Skyscrapers
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Tunnels
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Daredevils of the Sky
In "Daredevils of the Classroom," students design and experiment with the size, shape, angle of the wings, rudder position, and weight of a paper airplane. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Doomsday Asteroid, The
In "Crater Analysis," students investigate crater force, size, and mass of objects that strike a surface through a simulation of crater impacts. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "Squaring Off With Velocity," students investigate the meaning of c2 in E = mc2 by measuring the energy delivered by an object falling at different velocities. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Forces of Nature," students study about the four fundamental forces and the interactions they govern. Grades 9-12.

Fall of the Leaning Tower
In "Hold It Up," students experiment with different soil structures and measure the ability of each to carry a specific load. Grades 6-8.

Fast Cars
In "Slow Riders," students practice using the scientific method to design a helicopter that falls as slowly as possible. Grades 6-8.

Faster Than Sound
In "Lift Off!," students see a demonstration of the Bernoulli Effect. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Great Escape
In "The Great Escape Challenge," students invent a way to deliver a note across a fixed distance. Grades 6-8.

Hitler's Lost Sub
In "Build Your Own Submarine," students design their own submarine using plastic cups and soda bottles to investigate weight and buoyant force. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Killer Quake!
In "House of Cards," students gain experience with the concepts involved in constructing an earthquake-proof building. Grades 6-8.

Magnetic Storm
In "Visualizing Magnetic Fields," students study the magnetic fields around different shapes of magnets. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

MARS Dead or Alive
In "Slowing Things Down," students investigate three variables affecting a parachute's rate of descent and then design a parachute that will descend as slowly as possible. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Monster of the Milky Way
In "Dense, Denser, Densest?" students use a balloon and aluminum foil ball model to explore changes in density vs. volume as a massive star evolves into a black hole. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

NOVA scienceNOW: Brain Trauma
In "Protecting Your Brain: The Egghead Bicycle Helmet," students investigate how bicycle helmets protect the brain from injuries.

Roller Coaster!
In "Humpty Dumpty Revisited?" students consider the principles involved in choosing materials for and designing an egg bunjee-jump. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Colosseum
In "Reel Distances," students discover how to use pulleys to change the direction of force. Grades 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Inca
In "Hang in There!," students model suspension bridges by construction cables out of newspaper and testing their strength. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Obelisk
In "Lever Loads," students investigate how levers can be used to lift objects. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Stonehenge
In "The Great Trilithon Balancing Act," students build a cardboard trilithon to investigate center of gravity. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- China Bridge
In "Tasty Arch," students build a sugar wafer arch that supports itself with no mortar. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Easter Island
In "Lever Lift," students discover how levers work by raising a brick with shish kebab skewers. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Medieval Siege
In "Fling It!," students design a working model of a trebuchet and demonstrate the power of a Class 1 lever. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Pharaoh's Obelisk
In "Lever Lift," students discover how levers work by raising a brick with shish kebab skewers. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Roman Bath
In "Tasty Arch," students build a sugar wafer arch that supports itself with no mortar. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Spies That Fly
In "Small, Smaller, Smallest," students downsize an aircraft to understand some of the challenges associated with building extremely small vehicles. Grades 6-8.

Super Bridge
In "Super Bridge," students explore compression, tension, and torsion by constructing a spaghetti bridge tower that will hold a coffee can tower and cardboard roadbed. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Supersonic Spies
In "Race to be First," students interpret incomplete information to build a simple wheel-and-axle machine. Grades 6-8.

Terror in Space
In "Controlling the Cube," students explore the concept of center of mass and experiment with how altering the location of an object's center of mass can affect its motion. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Top Gun Over Moscow
In "Paper Warriors of Flight," students design paper airplanes to meet different flying objectives. Grades 6-8.

Underwater Dream Machine
In "Build Your Own Submarine," students prepare a diving tank and a submarine and make the submarine neutrally buoyant in the tank. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Wave That Shook the World
In "Tracking Tsunamis," students calculate approximate speeds and travel times for three sample tsunamis. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
In "What's Wing Warping?," students test the effects of wing warping by manipulating the leading and trailing edges on the wings of a paper airplane. Grades 6-8, 9-12.


Properties of Matter

Absolute Zero
In "Building a Bulb Thermometer," students build and calibrate their own bulb thermometers. Grades 6-8.

Avalanche!
In "Slip Sliding Away," students layer materials to mimic the strong and weak layers within a snowpack and then cause an avalanche to occur. Grades 6-8.

Descent Into the Ice
In "Is It Icy Water or Watery Ice," students investigate the phase change of water turning into ice. Grades 6-8.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "A Trip to Pluto," students consider the meaning of E = mc2 by examining how much of different kinds of fuel would be required to make an imaginary trip to Pluto. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "Energy's Invisible World," students explore the meaning of E in E = mc2 by investigating the nature of fields and forces at different stations in the classroom. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea
In "Messing with Mass," students conduct an inquiry into the meaning of m in E = mc2 by exploring how objects of mass interact during a chemical reaction in a plastic bag. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Einstein's Big Idea

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Particle Puzzle Pieces," students learn about some of the elementary particles in the Standard Model by building a proton and neutron from quarks. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Forces of Nature," students study about the four fundamental forces and the interactions they govern. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "A New Building Block?," students learn about a new theoretical fundamental unit -- a string -- and explore how its vibrational pattern indicates the particle it is. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Deducting Dimensions," students visualize a universe with fewer than three spatial dimensions and consider how more than three spatial dimensions could exist in the universe. Grades 9-12.

Elegant Universe, The: Einstein's Dream
In "Detective Work," students find out how to interpret particle interactions captured in one type of detector, a bubble chamber. Grades 9-12.

Fall of the Leaning Tower
In "Hold It Up," students experiment with different soil structures and measure the ability of each to carry a specific load. Grades 6-8.

Lincoln's Secret Weapon
In "Dive, Dive, Dive," students explore how principles of gas behavior relate to diving in order to plan safe underwater activities. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Lost on Everest
In "Keeping Warm," students test how effectively common clothing fabrics insulate against cold and consider the technological design of different fabrics. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Monster of the Milky Way
In "Dense, Denser, Densest?" students use a balloon and aluminum foil ball model to explore changes in density vs. volume as a massive star evolves into a black hole. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives
In "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives," students use an online interactive to investigate the double-slit experiment and research historical conflicts involving scientific theories. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Race to Catch a Buckyball
In "Building a Buckyball," students construct a paper model of the 60-carbon-atom Buckyball. Grades 6-8.

Saving the National Treasures
In "Preserving Paper," students determine the efficacy of different preservation techniques to reduce fading or yellowing from sun exposure. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Science Odyssey, A: Bigger, Better, Faster
In "Super Polymer," determine the absorbency of sodium polyacrylate to understand some properties of a polymer. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Secrets of Making Money
In "Bucking Trends," students design paper currency to investigate properties of different kinds of materials. Grades 6-8.

Secrets of the Samurai Sword
In "Mixed-Up Metals" students explore the characteristics of metals and produce a series of posters on different alloys, outlining their properties and how they are used. Grades 6-8.

Titanic's Lost Sister
In "Current Events," students investigate how differences in temperature affect the density of water. Grades 6-8.

Volcano Under the City
In "Thick and Thin," students experiment with three different liquids to determine the relative viscosity and flow rate of each liquid. Grades 3-5, 6-8.


Simple Machines

Great Escape
In "The Great Escape Challenge," students invent a way to deliver a note across a fixed distance. Grades 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Colosseum
In "Reel Distances," students discover how to use pulleys to change the direction of force. Grades 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Obelisk
In "Lever Loads," students investigate how levers can be used to lift objects. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Easter Island
In "Lever Lift," students discover how levers work by raising a brick with shish kebab skewers. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Medieval Siege
In "Fling It!," students design a working model of a trebuchet and demonstrate the power of a Class 1 lever. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Pharaoh's Obelisk
In "Lever Lift," students discover how levers work by raising a brick with shish kebab skewers. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Supersonic Spies
In "Race to be First," students interpret incomplete information to build a simple wheel-and-axle machine. Grades 6-8.


Sound

No Classroom Activities are available in the Sound category. See Find by Subject or Find by Title for other resource categories.


Structures

Building Big: Bridges
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Dams
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Domes
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Skyscrapers
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Building Big: Tunnels
Find a collection of 10 activities -- including paper bridge, geodesic dome, and newspaper tower -- designed to introduce students to the basic physical science of large structures. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Day the Earth Shook, The
In "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," students explore structural engineering through three design challenges. Grades 6-8.

Killer Quake!
In "House of Cards," students gain experience with the concepts involved in constructing an earthquake-proof building. Grades 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Inca
In "Hang in There!," students model suspension bridges by construction cables out of newspaper and testing their strength. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Secrets of Lost Empires I -- Stonehenge
In "The Great Trilithon Balancing Act," students build a cardboard trilithon to investigate center of gravity. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- China Bridge
In "Tasty Arch," students build a sugar wafer arch that supports itself with no mortar. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Secrets of Lost Empires II -- Roman Bath
In "Tasty Arch," students build a sugar wafer arch that supports itself with no mortar. Grades 3-5, 6-8.

Sinking City of Venice
In "Water Logged," students track problems and proposed solutions to Venice's floodwater problems in order to better understand the complexity of resolving the city's increasing flood troubles. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Super Bridge
In "Super Bridge," students explore compression, tension, and torsion by constructing a spaghetti bridge tower that will hold a coffee can tower and cardboard roadbed. Grades 6-8, 9-12.

Voyage of Doom
In "Build a Cofferdam," students design and construct a simple cofferdam and consider the advantages and disadvantages of modeling. Grades 6-8.


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