Learn about forces by trying to balance the table by adding weights. Try out different numbers/ sizes of weights.
Investigate an empty beam, a beam weighted at one end and a beam containing a ball bearing. Try to find the balance point of the beams to help understand centre of gravity.
Investigate balance and centre of gravity using flat shapes and a post for balancing them. Simple geometric shapes, weighted shapes and shapes with holes enable exploration of the idea.
Buses and mushroom shapes demonstrate how an object is more stable when the weight is positioned lower.
A drawbridge and 3 strings attached to the end (but at different angles) encourage investigation of forces and exploration of questions such as:
What are the differences in the angle between the string and the drawbridge? How far do you have to pull the string?
A wheel that can be attached to a connecting rod via a slider demonstrates up & down/ rotary motion and how the direction of the force affects movement.
Investigate how the repelling and attracting magnets (left of picture) affect each other and how this may change by placing sheets of different material between them.
See which objects levitate, how they move and why – as the turntable is rotated around the central column. The magnets on the central column have alternate N and S poles facing out. Of the objects attached to the posts, only the magnets and one of the metals are attracted.
Find out about pressure by pushing foot shapes of different sizes into the foam. Find out which goes deeper with the same force, which is easiest to push down and how they spring back when the pressure is released. Relate to snow shoes, camels with large feet, stiletto heels etc.
Try out the pulleys to see how they reduce the force needed to move the sprung weights. See how more pulleys make it easier but mean you have to pull the string further. When might this be useful? (When a weight has to be lifted that would be too heavy without the pulleys...)
Swing the pendulum gently over the magnets in the discs to see magnetic repulsion and chaotic movement.
Place the dish of iron clippings over the bar magnet to show the pattern of the magnetic field lines.
Base – use 3 strings to see how forces can add up or cancel out. Place a shape on top of the drum and see if you can work as a team to trace the shape by pulling the strings.
See how the springs (back) on both sides of the pointer can cancel forces in the opposite direction. Try working as a pair, hiding the number of springs you have moved and trying to work out what your partner has done.
A polarised screen makes it possible to see where the plastic shapes are stressed. See that forces have an instant effect and that the stresses are concentrated around sharp corners or narrower parts of the shape. Notice how the stripes of colour are concentrated more tightly when a material is more stressed and are more spread out when there is less force applied.
Investigate polarised light by turning the polarised sunglasses through 90 degrees.
Try using the electronic brakes (front, back or none) to compare the friction of the two surfaces. Relate this to places when friction is useful and when it is a problem – eg. Walking/ Ice skating.
Try pumping the brakes or just using them gently. Relate to anti-lock brakes.
Try the spinning tops and see how the smaller, lighter tops are easier to spin than the larger ones. Add weights to find out how an unbalanced top will not spin well.
Experiment with the different tops and weights.
Two or more people can use the foam blocks to build an arch bridge that demonstrates how strong an arched shape can be - thanks to gravity and friction. Relate to the arch of the foot.
Try out how the stability of the square structure is affected by the presence or absence of the removable central bar. This is put to good use in truss bridges and often in school DT lessons.