Hula Hoop Physics

It’s storming outside so we can’t go out for our field investigations. But we are going to study ‘Physics’ later this year. So let’s build some background knowledge.

Our dictionary states that physics is the science of matter and energy and includes motion, sound, light, gravity, electricity, and force.

Pairs of students were given a hula hoop as the center of the room was cleared. As a class we developed different demonstrations to show the various parts of physics.

Holding the hoop directly in front of you shows potential energy (PE). When you leave go the PE becomes kinetic energy (KE) and clangs to the floor.

Motion can be shown by all of us rolling our hula hoops across the room. On the count of three, two, one… what a wonderfully messy pile of hula hoops.

Noise can be demonstrated multiple ways: dropping the ring horizontally is more jarring than vertically. And we can make screeching noises rubbing our hands quickly on the hoop. This also creates heat due to the friction.

Electricity stumped us for a minute but I was able to demonstrate AC/DC current. Line five students in a row and tap, tap, tap for DC and swinging back and forth for AC.

Color was a discussion of why the hula hoops were different colors – white light spectrum and rainbows included.

Next week we’ll discuss the Physics of Bicycles and the following week has us at the fairgrounds to learn about the Physics of Roller Coasters. What fun!

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