Games and Toys About Physics for Kids
Learning about physics is important for all ages. When we understand the concept of physics, we can understand how the objects we encounter everyday work – and maybe even help us to build something new to make our lives easier. Often, the only physics education we get comes with a class in high school, but even small children can learn about physics and have fun doing it. Here are some tips to incorporate physics education into your child’s schedule by using toys and games.
Learn about gravity, cause-and-effect, and Newton’s Laws of Motion with the German –made Hamsterolle board game. Made for ages 6 & up, this game is for 2-4 players and only takes about 30 minutes to play. The game has a wooden wheel that’s divided into 12 sections by small barriers. Each player puts his pieces on the wheel, and as it starts to roll, you might get pieces you don’t want. The goal is to get rid of your pieces first.
Learn about balance and gravity with games like Jenga, Villa Paletti, or the Angry Birds Knock on Wood board game.These games are for 2 or more players and test your ability to stack objects without falling. The Angry Birds Knock on Wood game also introduces young children to concepts like angular momentum and velocity.
Older children can have fun learning about velocity and angular momentum with Ferti’s Pitchcar. Made for 1 or more players aged 6 and up, Pitchcar players build a track, flick their car and try to stay on their wheels and on the track. A game lasts 15-30 minutes, so it’s good for kids who have shorter attention spans.
Learn about light, reflection, and angles with The Laser Game, Khet 2.0 by Innovention Toys. 2 players aged 9 and up alternate moving their pieces around the board. Each player has a laser that creates a beam which bounces from mirror to mirror around the playing field. The goal is to protect your own pharaoh while lighting up your opponent’s pharaoh. It combines the simplicity and strategy.
Which of Newton's Laws of Motion state that "For Every Action There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction?"
One of the simplest ways to get your kids to learn about physics is to get a common object like a prism, a magnet, a yo-yo or even a bicycle and talk about the concepts involved as your child plays with them. When playing with a prism, have a discussion about light and wavelengths. When playing with magnets, talk about poles and metals. When playing with a yo-yo or riding a bike, discuss friction, torque, momentum, and velocity. The ideas are endless and you probably don't have to go out and buy anything. Discuss the physics concepts behind the everyday objects your child already has. If you aren't really familiar with a concept, do a search online together and discuss what you found.
For those who prefer to buy toys, however, a boomerang is useful in learning about gyroscopic motion. Playing with a Slinky can open up a discussion about Hooke's Law. If that seems too simple, however, and your children are over 8 years old, you might want to try one of the many kits offered by Thames and Kosmos. Thames and Kosmos offers a Physics Workshop kit that provides hours of fun. Kids build models then perform experiments with the models to learn about mechanics. Once they've mastered those concepts, they can always move on to Thames and Kosmos' Physics Pro kit that provides more advanced learning in topics such as fluid dynamics, energy, oscillation, hydraulics, and pneumatics.
Online Games & Apps
For those who prefer online games, there are plenty to choose from. Physicsgames.net has a great collection of free physics-based games. It's free, requires no registration, and you can search by which type of game you want to play (e.g., construction, projectile, etc.). Funkyphysics.net and phyfun.com also have quite a collection of free games with no registration required. They are also organized by game type.
For those who prefer apps for smartphone or tablets, Apparatus is a fun game that allows you to build a structure which will enable one or more marbles to reach a goal. The Android version costs $2.49, but it is not available for the iPhone. IPhone users might enjoy Dan Russell-Pinson's Monster Physics app. Children learn about physics by building their own inventions and then using them to help monsters solve puzzles. Priced at just $0.99, it engages even young children and provides them with hours of educational fun. Monster Physics is available on Android for $1.99.
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