Physical Science


  • Fetch! | Sky Diver

    In this activity from Fetch! you will learn to build a parachute, then you will design your own, comparing the effect that different materials have on the behavior of the chute. Consider the forces that act on the chute. The force of gravity pulls the chute to the ground. But air trapped in the canopy of the chute— air resistance— makes it fall slowly. Would different materials change the rate of speed at which the parachute falls?

    Grades: 1-6
  • Funny Boat

    It may be admirable to create something useful out of garbage, but it could be risky to trust your life to a boat made from items others have thrown away. In this video segment adapted from FETCH!™, cast members put their engineering design skills to the test when they are challenged to construct a boat that floats, can be steered, and is propelled by something other than oars. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades K-8 students.

    Grades: K-8
  • How Do You Keep Lemonade Cool?

    This video segment adapted from FETCH!™ shows two cast members teaming up to take on a design challenge: Make a lemonade stand that keeps lemonade cool and is sturdy and transportable. With the assistance of master carpenter Norm Abram, the team does an experiment to determine the best insulator for keeping the lemonade cool and then chooses their materials from among those available. Their deliberate approach exemplifies the strengths inherent in the engineering design process. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grades K-8 students.

    Grades: K-8
  • Fetch! | Go Fly a Kite

    In this activity from Fetch ! you will learn how to build a kite. Experiment with different designs, and consider all of the forces that are acting on your kite that might cause it to fly (air pressure) or fall &#40gravity&#41. If there is no wind to generate air pressure, you can create air pressure by running with your kite. But unless there is air pressure in some way, gravity will bring your kite down.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Crazy About Kites

    In this activity from Fetch! you will learn how to build a basic kite, then you will design and fly your own. You will have to make decisions about what the body should look like to catch the air best, how long the tail should be, and what materials should be used. Brainstorm different configurations, then test your designs and note your results, like a scientist conducting an experiment. How can you improve your design ? The sky's the limit!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Blast Off!

    Build a rocket launcher in this activity from Fetch! Using a plastic bottle, you will attach a rocket silo (a straw) and fit a larger straw onto it. With the larger straw sealed at the top, any air that is forced out of the bottle will exert a force on the sealed end, sending the straw flying. You can even add wings and tails to your rocket, affecting its speed or direction.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Kaleid-o-mania

    Create your own kaleidoscope in this activity from Fetch!. The kaleidoscope was invented in the 19th century by a 10'year'old Scottish boy. This task will draw on your artistic talents as well as your craft skills. It all starts with your drawing. Then you will need three shiny surfaces to reflect the light around so that the drawing is multiplied at different angles.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Eye Spy

    In this activity from Fetch! learn how to make a periscope so you can peer over walls and peek around corners. Periscopes work by directing light in different directions with mirrors. One mirror reflects light to another mirror. That second mirror directs light to your eye. In that way, you can see things that are not in your direct line of sight. Submarine crews, soldiers, and surgeons all use periscopes or equipment that works like a periscope.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Motion Picture

    In this activity from Fetch! you will create an optical illusion toy called a thaumatrope. A thaumatrope demonstrates a theory called persistence of vision. A thaumatrope has two images. When it spins, it moves so fast that your brain holds onto both images and merges them into one. You spin the thaumotrope using rubber bands. Winding them up creates stored or potential energy. Letting them go releases energy and turns it into motion, or kinetic energy.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Float My Boat | PBS Kids

    Even large ships weighing hundreds of thousands of tons stay afloat. But how? When a boat floats, it settles into the water, pushing the water aside to make room for itself. But it's a two-way pushing match, the water pushes back on the bottom and sides of the boat. This force, called buoyancy, holds the boat up.  In this activity, kids investigate floating by building tinfoil boats and loading them with pennies until they sink. Through testing, kids will discover an important pattern: the boat's size and shape make a difference in how much of a load it can carry. Time to roll up the shirtsleeves and dive in!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: What's the Buzz? | PBS Kids

    All sound is made up of vibrations (rapid back-and-forth movement), which produce sound waves that travel through the air to our ears. When you play a kazoo, air carries the sound waves from your mouth down the tube, making the waxed paper vibrate. You can feel those vibrations if you touch the waxed paper. With this "Fetch!" activity, make an instrument that anyone can play - a kazoo - and get the buzz on sound vibrations!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Screaming String Thing | PBS Kids

    Sound vibrations travel through liquids, gases (like air), and solids (like the string in this activity). Sliding your fingers along the string creates friction (rubbing and sticking). This causes the string to vibrate. The vibrations travel up the string to the cup, which acts like a speaker and amplifies them (makes them sound louder). But why does the wet string work better than the dry string? The wet string made your fingers stick and rub more, causing more vibrations and more sound. In this "Fetch!" activity, turn an ordinary cup and string into a screeching, squawking sound machine.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Help Wanted | PBS Kids

    Ruff Ruffman has a knack for getting into trouble and he needs help! In this "Fetch!" activity, find out what the problem is and hire a scientist to help. Then, pick up some equipment for the scientist to explore Ruff's predicament. Choose the right scientist and equipment to rack up points!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Thrill Ride | PBS Kids

    Design a crazy roller coaster ride for a marble but make sure it doesn't fly off the track! Did you notice that your starting point had to be the highest point on the course? The higher the starting point, the more potential energy your marble has stored up to use later. When the marble started rolling downward, its potential energy began to change into kinetic energy (the energy of motion). If it has enough energy, your marble will make it up the next hill or even around the loop-de-loop!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Target Practice | PBS Kids

    A catapult is a device used to hurl an object. It uses a simple machine called a lever (the spoon and craft stick), which is attached to a stationary point called a fulcrum (the cardboard tube), to help move a load (the marshmallow). Your catapult is powered by the rubber band. When you pull back on the lever, potential energy is stored in the rubber band. When you let go, the potential energy is transferred to the lever and turned into the energy of motion (or kinetic energy), and the marshmallow is flung forward. Download this "Fetch!" PDF, and build a catapult using a lever, and power it with a rubber band!

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! Science Activities: Ice Cream Shake | PBS Kids

    Cold doesn't exist by itself. Cold just means there's less heat energy around. Take a cold room for example. It's cold because it doesn't contain a lot of heat energy. Some of its heat energy escaped! To make ice cream, you must remove heat energy from the cream. Heat energy moves from places with more heat energy to places with less. So, heat energy flows from the cream to the ice, cooling the cream and melting the ice. Once the cream loses enough heat energy, it freezes and becomes a solid. Shake things up with this "Fetch!" activity, and turn a liquid into a solid. If you succeed, you'll have a tasty treat to enjoy at the end! Yummm.

    Grades: 1-5
  • Fetch! | All Wound Up

    In this Fetch! activity, you get to build and power a race car. Instead of an engine, you will wind up a rubber band to store energy, then let it go. The stored energy is called potential energy, and the energy when the car moves is called kinetic energy.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Blow It Away

    Make a car powered by the wind in this activity from Fetch! We provide the instructions for building the car, but you get to design the wind catcher. The wind catcher will act as a sail. Wind will exert a force on the sail (air pressure), propelling the car.

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Hang Time

    In this activity from Fetch! you will learn how to build a helicopter. After you launch it, consider all of the forces that are acting on your copter that might cause it to fly (air pressure) or fall &#40gravity&#41. Watch the way it behaves when it flies. Did something in the design cause it to behave that way? Try different designs and note how they change the copter's behavior. Will a different design help the copter stay up in the air longer?

    Grades: 1-6
  • Fetch! | Set It Straight

    Tinker with a tabletop seesaw, in this activity from Fetch! . With balancing, it's not just weight that matters. Position matters, too. Weight and distance keep your seesaw balanced. Weight is how heavy objects are on each side of the fulcrum. Distance is how far each weight is from the fulcrum. Together, weight and distance create leverage. That's why, with your seesaw, you can balance a stack of pennies close to the fulcrum on one side with just one penny far from the fulcrum on the other side. Even though the single penny has only a little weight, it's far from the fulcrum, giving it a large amount of leverage.

    Grades: 1-6

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