Help your students understand the world around them.

Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos, Grades 6-8: Phenomenon-Based Learning

by: Matthew Bobrowsky, Mikko Korhonen, and Jukka Kohtamäki

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What student—or teacher—can resist the chance to experiment with Rocket Launchers, Sound Pipes, Drinking Birds, Dropper Poppers, and more? The 35 experiments in Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos, Grades 6–8, cover topics including pressure and force, thermodynamics, energy, light and color, resonance, and buoyancy.

The authors say there are three good reasons to buy this book:

1. To improve your students’ thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.
2. To get easy-to-perform experiments that engage students in the topic.
3. To make your physics lessons waaaaay more cool.

The phenomenon-based learning (PBL) approach used by the authors—two Finnish teachers and a U.S. professor—is as educational as the experiments are attention-grabbing. Instead of putting the theory before the application, PBL encourages students to first experience how the gadgets work and then grow curious enough to find out why. Students engage in the activities not as a task to be completed but as exploration and discovery.

The idea is to help your students go beyond simply memorizing physical science facts. Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos can help them learn broader concepts, useful thinking skills, and science and engineering practices (as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards). And—thanks to those Sound Pipes and Dropper Poppers—both your students and you will have some serious fun.

For more information about hands-on materials for Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos, visit Arbor Scientific at

Table of Contents

Available April 2014

About the Authors

An Introduction to Phenomenon-Based Learning

To the Student

To the Teacher

Learning Goals and Assessment

PBL in Finland

Authors’ Use of Gadgets and Gizmos

Safety Notes

Additional Resources


1 Wave Motion and Sound

Get in Tune

Standing Wave

Sound Pipe

Music Box

Doppler Ball

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

2 Visible Light and Colors

Prism Play


Color Addition and Subtraction

Combining Colors

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

3 Thermodynamics

Radiation Cans


Ball and Ring

Drinking Bird

Fire Syringe

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

4 Air Pressure

It's a Hold-Up!

Pressure Power

Pressure Globe

Water Rocket

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

5 Density and Buoyancy

A Sinking Feeling

Rock the Boat

Solar Bag

Cartesian Diver

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

6 Force, Motion, and Energy

Excelling at Acceleration

Balancing Bird

It's a Snap!

Race to the Bottom

Energy Ingenuity

Happy / Unhappy Balls

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

7 It's Science, Not Magic

Wind Bag


Dropper Popper

Magnetic Accelerator


Fun Fly Stick

Energy Ball


Web Resources

Relevant Standards


How to Order the Gizmos and Gadgets

Keyword Glossary



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