Monday, October 13, 2014

Balance and Gravitational Pull

One of our favorite games is Jenga. Every time we play this game Selena asks so many questions about what is happening, from "How can the tower continue to stand?" to "Why are some blocks loose and others are not?" I decided it was time to address some of these questions. We have already discussed balance and gravity, Selena understands the basic concepts of these two areas, so after a little recap we moved on.

To get started I asked Selena to balance herself on one leg. Of course her immediate action was to put her arms out to the side to help with the process of balancing herself.

I then hung the container from our Jenga game on her arm on the side that the leg was up, she immediately discovered that she became unbalanced. She asked me for an object of the same weight for her other arm to pull her back into balance. I complimented her on how she so quickly thought this situation through to come up with a simple solution to her perplexed situation.

 We then set up the Jenga game. Before any piece was removed we discussed weight distribution, and depending on how gravity is pulling on the tower, some blocks truly are not needed to hold it up, so that is why they are loose. I asked her to carefully examine the tower and determine without touching which blocks were loose. She realized just by looking that many of the loose blocks had air spaces around them.

With every move we stopped to examine the tower, how it was beginning to lean, to examining very closely all 4 sides to try to determine should the tower fall which direction was it more apt to fall in.

Selena examined the tower very closely, and determined that while the tower was leaning in one direction the opposite side had fewer support blocks, so the building would fall in the opposite direction on the lean.

I loved her concentration as she tried so very hard to figure out which block could safely be removed, of course at this point we really didn't have many loose blocks, so the tower did tip over, and yes, it tipped over in the direction she had thought it would.

Now for the fun part, she had to create a tower trying to think about where she needed support to hold the tower up, and where she could just leave blocks out.

She didn't make it very far before her little tower fell over. We will be doing more with these simple ideas and properties. We will add different mediums which to build our towers upon.

I can't encourage you enough that through what seems like such a simple toy, can actually be filled with many learning opportunities. Play and learn together.
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