Playground Physics is appropriate across the entire age spectrum of the science curriculum. The youngest students (as early as kindergarten) can have fun tracing motion and watching the paths follow their videos, while older students can work out the calculus to determine equations representing velocity, acceleration, and force.
The app can really fit into any science unit on motion. It can be an intro activity before diving into a more traditional treatment of the content, or it can be a complete project. Encourage students to direct and film a video showing a variety of physical relationships, then use the app's features to measure them and add relevant special effects. It's always great to keep around for students to explore during spare time between units or during test-related downtime.Continue reading Show less
Playground Physics is part of the New York Hall of Science's (NYSCI) "Noticing Tools" suite of apps. Students use the iPad to shoot video of any motion they'd like, whether it's their friends running around or playing on playground equipment, tennis balls flying across the room, or more controlled lab experiments. After tagging key frames in the video to create motion tracks and adjusting the scale for accurate measurements, the program then measures speed, position, direction, energy, and force. These measurements are displayed with meters and time-coded graphs along with the video.
Students can then apply their knowledge of velocity, force, and energy to add special effects to the video and stickers to the timeline. These can represent points of high or low speed, push or pull forces, and high kinetic or potential energy. Videos can then be saved and shared through any of the iPad's sharing routes, Google Drive, or the app's Teacher Hub feature.
It's great for learning. Any time you can get students moving their bodies to authentically teach concepts, they learn on a deep, intuitive level that transfers to skills outside the classroom. The learning can be very student-led: They choose how to move, how to film, how exact to be in their motion-tracking, and when to mark the timeline to represent physical concepts.
At some point, you'll have to work to translate everything to paper with formulas and word problems, but the app's ability to share videos makes that easy, too. Students can include their own creations in presentations that also include the written physics.
Key Standards Supported
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
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