Monday, November 21, 2011

Homemade Levers: Science Play

I've had the idea of making a lever for Tyler for months. As I've mentioned recently, he is quite a little scientist, especially with "physics", and I wanted to help him further his interests. I just had no idea how I was going to make a lever. It stumped me, and I couldn't spend any money. Turns out I was able to come up with two lever ideas that have worked for him after a little searching around the house!

The small lever. Made with Woodsies, cups and small wooden cubes (sorry, I can't find the cubes on the Hobby Lobby website, but they are in the unfinished wood section in stores). 

I used three Woodsies boards (which I painted white) gluing them together in the above fashion (this is the underbelly) with wood glue. I left space for the fulcrum so that it wouldn't simply slip away and cause frustration. It needed a little niche so it would stay in place decently (which was my biggest obstacle when thinking of how to design this). The fulcrum made by gluing was several cubes together to make a wall. They were then glued to another Woodsie. The edges were sanded down later after I realized it would make it more of a real fulcrum (fulcrum's are typically triangular).

First we used unit block cubes. He got the idea of balancing them pretty quickly as he had actually done the next (big) lever first.

 He then wanted to use rocks. Though these rocks vary in size and weight, we aren't getting too exact here yet, still experimenting with the ideas of light, heavy and balance, so we went with it. Later I will have him use things like pennies and other small objects which have the same weight and size.

The first lever I made a couple days before was simply a sanded down piece of pine I had in the basement centered over Ty's balance beam. I the board left it a bit rough so the books would stay rather than slide, but not so much that he would get a sliver. Though I gave a quick demo, he seemed to know what to do right away and excitedly dove in!

Balanced! I can never get enough of his proud expressions!

Balanced again! I can't even tell you how long he did this on the first go.

Experimenting by putting books in different areas of the board.

Whoa! Time to balance this out!

Got it!

The only issue with this lever is probably pretty obvious. The books have to be placed well so that they don't fall off, something that frustrated him at times because his tolerance for things not going right has been so low lately. That's why I made the small lever with cups, though we continue to use this as well...when he isn't completely exhausted that is!

I would love to hear other or similar ideas so I can continue to expand upon Ty's interests. Feel free to share links!  

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