Vernier Science Education - June  2024


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Physical Science

How to Teach Physics Very Inexpensively and Very Effectively

Author Post
Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

Hi Adah! Thanks for sharing this resource. I took a few minutes to look through the link to the book you provided. It looks fantastic! With many districts looking for ways to stretch their budgets, resources like this one help teachers provide solid, hands-on learning experience for our students without breaking the bank. The other thing that I really like about these lessons is that it helps our students realize that physics is all around us and explains how the world works. Giving our students opportunities to learn physics by experiencing physics in priceless, but it's always nice to save a little money while we do it! Maureen

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64765 Points

Hi Adah, I skimmed through the book and I definitely agree with you. This is a great resource. This year my physics class is entirely high energy young men. They have great mechanical ability and natural aptitude for physics. However, they need help with the mathematics behind the physics. This book is an answer to prayer--simple experimental set-ups with explanations of the math involved. While I will still use my sensor labs that I have in the past, I am definitely adding several of these labs to the curriculum. THANKS!

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

Hi All!, I went into the archives and brought the thread on Inquiry with Paper forward so that folks new to teaching physics very inexpensively can jump in and enrich this thread as well as to contribute to the older thread. Thanks all for the lively discussions. ~Patty

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

See the Thread: [b]Inquiry with Paper in this forum. [/b] Chime in with your ideas and resources to share:} ~patty

Angelina Cruz Angelina Cruz 820 Points

Thank you for sharing this excellent resource to teachers who are trying to stretch their budget to the fullest. The simple materials and availability of them wherever you are would be a big help for teachers who are looking for alternatives in providing quality education through hands on activities. I am yet to look at all the other ideas that I can adapt in my own classroom since I only took a glimpse of it. But then again, thanks so much. Aloha from Hawaii, Angie Cruz

Nohelani Kobayashi Nohelani Kunishige 2060 Points

Thank you so much for sharing this information. This is my first year that I am going to attempt to teach anything related to physics. So this is a great resources for me to look at and adjust it to meet the needs of my fourth graders. I was able to go through parts of the books and I love that it doesn't take a lot of money to do all of this. It's really helpful, especially when every teacher is on a budget. The math is a little beyond the students level...and mine =) But I look forward to trying some of these projects with them. I wanted to do something to get the students excited about learning science and how things work. Thank you!

Ken Liu Ken Liu 2000 Points

Thank you so much for the useful resource! As teachers have to do more with less, it makes sense to go "low tech" now days. As long as the activity facilitates student learning, why spend a fortune on the activity? Teachers need to be innovative, creative, and resourceful to make meaningful lessons and activities on a shoe-string budget. I've always been a proponent of the KISS method... "Keep it simple, stupid!" :-)

Joanna Kobayashi Joanna Kobayashi 490 Points

This is awesome! One of my Curriculum professors back in my teaching school days had a resource very similar to this. I've been trying to find it and am so thankful that you posted this. Looking forward to going through these sticky tape experiments with my students.

Philip Anderson Philip Anderson 1030 Points

Hello Everyone, Thanks for the resource. In keeping withthe theme of teaching physics on a shoestring, I would like to suggest a Rube Goldberg project which allows students to use physics in a creative machine that performs a very simple task by way of multiple steps. Each step of the Rube-Goldberg machine can be easily applied to basic physics and developed further to incoporate math. The Rube-Goldberg project will engage all students while they learn about physics. Phil Anderson

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

This was recently posted on another thread but the materials are so inexpensive and yet root out so many misconceptions that students have about the nature of charge, induced charge, charge by conduction, mobile electrons and electrostatic forces that the free classroom materials merit posting here, too. ELECTROSTATICS ACTIVITIES for STUDENTS by Robert A. Morse St. Albans School, Washington DC 20016 Copyright 1991 These materials have been used for decades in national and local workshops as well as shared globally. Bob Morse did a great job creating them and the history backgrounds with Ben Franklin and other scientists fit right into science across the curriculum. ~patty

Joanna Kobayashi Joanna Kobayashi 490 Points

I do a RG project every year with my Basic Physics students. Below are videos I use to hook them into the project, and also get their ideas. Honda Cog Movie: Shows the parts of a Honda van, RG style ( This is one is good for ideas, uses everyday items. (

Rochelle Tamiya Rochelle Tamiya 4095 Points

Thank you for that resource Adah...I will use some of those lessons this week as I wanted to include more branches of science using scientific inquiry as the backbone within my Life Science class. I know the students will have fun doing these experiments, not to mention, it will really get those thinking caps working over time! Thank you!

Rochelle Tamiya Rochelle Tamiya 4095 Points

Hi there Adah! I wanted to let you know that I used some of the lessons from the link that you sent. Not only did I enjoy it but so did my students. They were "tripping out"!! They really did enjoy doing the activities...I want to thank you for them! I did the Center of Gravity/Mass exercises with them (straw and marble, human body - balancing on one leg, tip toe against a wall, and trying to knock over the matchbox) ending with the string and marble to show center of mass/gravity on the paper models. We had a blast! Thank you again!

Margeaux Ikuma Margeaux Ikuma 620 Points

Thank you Adah for this AMAZING resource. I started by looking at the beginning sections of area and volume, and was simply impressed with how this resource took a math concept into the realm of science. Often times students are taught area and volume in a very rote manner, with memorizing an equation and sometimes even building volume models with interlocking cubes. But your resource pushed the concept of volume one step further by having students create a standardized tool for measuring volume by using paper, water, and a dixie cup. By participating in an activity such as this one, volume is no longer just a minor calculation, but can be discovered for what it really is, a tool for calculating mass! Just mind-blowing! I can’t wait to try it with my students.

Sung Yi Sung Yi 1555 Points

Hi Adah, Thanks for the post on some very good physics lab experiments. I also found a lab simple physics lab experiment that almost all grade levels could conduct as long as they are supervised. I found the Putt Putt Boat lab online and found that this covers a lot of topics in physics and is also very fun for the students.

Jennifer Perry Jennifer Perry 2250 Points

Thanks Joanna for the links. I downloaded the Cog (Honda commercial)to my laptop. For highschoolers it will trigger some thinking, especially those wanting to get a car or who have a car already. Not only does this involve Newtons laws of motion, but also care and maintenance so that your car runs smoothly. We no longer offer auto mechanics at our school, but I think science can fill in the blank, helping students with writing a hypothesis and designing an experiment to test their vehicles when something goes wrong.

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