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PreK-3, 13+

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The Science of Angles! | What's Good

Join us for What's Good, a new, six-part video series where inspiration and information meet the power of science. In this video and accompanying series of activities, parents and children will explore the topic of angles and how they are used in everyday life. Kids will use their powers of observation to find angles around their homes and neighborhoods, and then engage in fun activities to build their own angles.

Lesson Summary

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Angles are formed when two lines come together at a shared point. A right angle (the type you find in each corner of a square) is 90 degrees. More narrow angles are called acute, and wider angles are called obtuse. We use angles every day – to build ramps and slides, steer a car, shoot basketballs, throw baseballs, and kick soccer balls. In fact, the science of angles is in almost every sport we play and every movement we make.

Introductory Activity

Our conversations with our kids increase their powers of observation and help them ask and answer questions about the world around them.

• At Home: How many angles can you find around your house? Hint: If you can locate a triangle, rectangle, or square – any shape with straight lines – you can find an angle! So you can find angles in the tile, windows, cookie sheets, doors, and appliances. Which capital letters of the alphabet have angles – and which have NO angles? Look at a watch or clock: At what times of day are the hands in a straight line? A wide (obtuse) angle)? A narrow (acute) angle?

• Around Town: Go on a shape hunt as you walk or drive. Look for polygons – shapes with straight lines that form angles. Can your kids find a triangle (tri angle = three angles)? A square? A rectangle? A star? A diamond? An octagon? Look for angles in natures – such as those created tree limbs or shadows.

Learning Activities

Investigate It!

• Body Angles: What are some of the ways you can make an angle using your body? Try putting your arms straight out and trace the angle from the arm to the torso. Make a right angle with your thumb and pointer finger. Make a narrow (acute) angle by flashing the peace sign with your pointer and middle finger. Stretch your legs further and further apart to make an angle larger and larger. If you can do the splits, you have moved from an angle to a straight line!

• Ramp It Up: Slides are simply a smooth surface placed at an angle. How do angles affect speed? Experiment creating a ramp for a toy car – a hardback picture book will do for a surface! Change the angle of the ramp and see how it affects the speed of the car. Go to the playground and test out different slides. How does the angle affect the sliding experiences?

• Shadowplay: Shadows are attached to a physical object, forming an angle. On a sunny day, go out and hunt for shadows. Look for your own shadow, and look for the shadows of trees and buildings. Try going out at different times of day – and notice how shadows get longer or shorter depending on where the sun is located in the sky. Then, inside, set up a scene with blocks or toys: using a flashlight as a sun, create shadows. When the flashlight is right above a block tower, the shadow will be short. When the flashlight is closer to the ground, the shadow will grow longer.

• Play Ball!: Talk about angles as you play sports as a family. Basketball, soccer and baseball are all games of angles. If you want a soccer ball to travel straight, how do kick it? What if you want it to travel to the right or left? Try throwing a basketball or baseball overhand and underhand; how does it affect the movement or angle of the ball? When you bounce a ball on the ground, does it always bounce straight up and down or does it sometimes bounce on an angle? What can you do to change the angle of the bounce? Can you use angles to help you make a basket?

• Make It: How many different ways can you draw, sculpt or build angles. Try using a pencil and ruler to draw, pipe cleaners or strips of paper to bend, or blocks to build. Use toothpicks, glue and paper to create “angle art.” Can you use toothpicks to write the letters of the alphabet that have angles?