Halloween Science Idea for Forces and Motion
Here is a simple Halloween science activity for teachers who are looking for something a little Halloween-y but don’t want to stray too far from the curriculum. It is designed for third grade Forces and Interaction standard: 3-PS2-2. Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
This is a fun investigation of predictable motions.
First you need some round candy or balls. I like the idea of using the leftover Halloween candy. Whoppers, Gobstoppers, Gum balls, or anything round will work. The more the merrier. These are gum balls in the picture including the fun eyeball ones! You might also grab some marbles, golf balls, and ping pong balls for the sake of exploration.
Next, grab a bowl or five. I recommend a variety of bowls because students can test and see if the size and shape of the bowl will affect the results.
Hypothesize and Test
Have students predict whether they think the ball will roll out. Then have them test. Leave it open ended, and encourage them to ask questions like will the size of the ball affect the outcome? Will a ball with a greater mass roll out? Just let them explore and investigate.
Students should find that the balls will not roll out of the bowl. When they drop a ball, it gains momentum when it travels down the side of the bowl. Gravity pulls it back down, and the friction between the ball and the bowl slows it down.
There is a predictable back and forth motion, and students should notice and predict that each time the ball rolls a little bit lower and a little bit lower until it stops going up at all and eventually stops. Encourage students to discuss or write about their findings.
Real World Extension
Have students think about how this would apply to a water slide, specifically the ones that release riders into a bowl shaped contraption or ramp. Also, how would these principles apply to a skateboarder on a half pipe. Is it possible to overcome the friction and gravity and skate above the half pipe?
Here you go, just print it and enjoy!
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