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Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos, Grades 3-5: Phenomenon-Based Learning

by: Matthew Bobrowsky, Mikko Korhonen, and Jukka Kohtamaki

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What student—or teacher—can resist the chance to experiment with Velocity Radar Guns, Running Parachutes, Super Solar Racer Cars, and more? The 30 experiments in Using Physical Science Gadgets and Gizmos, Grades 3–5, let your elementary school students explore a variety of phenomena involved with speed, friction and air resistance, gravity, air pressure, electricity, electric circuits, magnetism, and energy.

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. Working in groups, students engage in the activities not as a task to be completed but as exploration and discovery using curiosity-piquing devices and doohickeys.

The idea is to motivate young scientists to go beyond simply memorizing 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 radar guns and race cars—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 http://www.arborsci.com/nsta-es-kits

Table of Contents

About the Authors

An Introduction to Phenomenon-Based Learning

How to Use This Book

Learning Goals and Assessment

PBL in Finland

Authors’ Use of Gadgets and Gizmos

Safety Notes


Additional Resources

1 Speed

Speed Racer

Measuring Speed

Changing Speed

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

2 Friction and Air Resistance

Dragging the Block

Sliding the Puck

Is Running a Drag?

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

3 Gravity

Falling Balls

Propeller Puzzle

Balancing Bird

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

4 Air Pressure

Impressive Pressure

Pressure Power


Web Resourc

Relevant Standard


5 Electricity

Fun Fly Stick

Lightning Globe

Having a Ball

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

6 Electric Circuits

Snapping Circuits

Lighting a Lamp

Getting to Know the Switches

Learning Types of Connections

Exploring Conductivity

Measuring Electricity

Creating Voltage With a Simple Battery

Creating Voltage With a Hand Crank

Electric Circuits


Basic Units of Electricity

Snaptricity Setups for the Circuits in This Chapter

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

7 Magnetism

Bar Magnets

Magnetic Field

Magnetic Globe


Web Resources

Relevant Standards

8 Energy

Solar Car

Melting Ice

Music Box

Hand Crank

Web Resources

Relevant Standards

Appendix: How to Order the Gadgets and Gizmos



Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels



Assessment Curriculum Informal Education Instructional Materials Lesson Plans Physical Science Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 9/1/2014Pages 103ISBN 978-1-936959-38-9Stock # PB345X3

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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