We had some discussion on ventrilo about what would be good experiments for kids to do.
I may have posted about the K-12 framework the the NRC published. If not, you can find it here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165
But a much more searchable format is found here:
Let's say you have a 3rd grader, and you want to teach her about the physical sciences. You can click grade "3", then "physical sciences", and finally "search".
It will bring up two topics:
"3.SFS Structure, Function, and Stimuli"
"3.IF Interactions of Forces"
Say you think your child may need to learn more about the interaction of forces...so click on that.
It will then list the standards that apply for that grade.
On the views portion, you can color code the standards. I like the "Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts" view (it still has the core ideas in black, but split into where the cross-cutting concepts come into play).
When you scroll over each part, a pop-up comes up with more details explaining what the grade level standard is and how it related to other grade levels.
For grade 3, the standards regarding the interaction of forces are:
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
- a. Investigate the motion of objects to determine observable and measurable patterns to predict future motions. [Clarification Statement: Examples of motions are a ball rolling down a slide or a child swinging in a swing.] [Assessment Boundary: Technical terms, such as magnitude, velocity, momentum, and vector quantity are not introduced.]
- b. Investigate the motion of objects by comparing the relative sizes and direction of forces on an object at rest to the forces on an object whose motion is changing. [Clarification Statement: Examples investigations could include pulling a wagon or pushing on a heavy object that will not slide.] [Assessment Boundary: Dependence on variables of motion is to be tested one variable at a time. The size and direction of forces should be qualitative. Gravity only to be addressed as a force that pulls objects down.]
- c. Use models to explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on a system.
- d. Investigate the forces between two or more magnets to identify patterns. [Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns could include strength of attraction and distance, attracting or repelling based on orientation.]
- e. Investigate the push-and-pull forces between objects not in contact with one another. [Clarification Statement: Examples of objects could be force on hair from an electrically charged balloon or the force between two magnets.] [Assessment Boundary: Energy and gravity are not to be assessed. Assessment to be limited to forces produced by objects that can be manipulated and observed by students.]
- f. Design and refine solutions to a problem by using magnets to move objects not in contact with one another. [Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could be to move a metal object through a maze or build a model of a maglev train.]
I am sure you can come up with plenty of little demonstrations or activities based on that--like playing with static electricity and balloons, or with magnets of various types.
Dancing Raisins/Macaroni/Lentils is really good for stretching a child's imagination for coming up with explanations (for the "Use models to explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on a system." standard above). I used to volunteer at a school for developmentally challenged children, and the children there loved this activity.
The explanations here can go from the fairly obvious to more involved, but there are all sorts of questions children start to ask, many of which they can answer themselves with their own observations.