Juggling Makes Physics Fun: Elementary Students Learn the Physical Science Concepts Behind Juggling

By Beck, Charles | Science and Children, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Juggling Makes Physics Fun: Elementary Students Learn the Physical Science Concepts Behind Juggling

Beck, Charles, Science and Children

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

We all hope our classrooms don't take on a circuslike atmosphere, but juggling can be an engaging way to introduce elementary physics to students. After presenting simple juggling demonstrations to my fifth- and sixth-grade students, I encouraged them to try juggling objects such as floating scarves, beanbags, and tennis balls. They soon learned that they had to control the direction, amount of force, and distance between the objects. The students were overjoyed when they learned to keep the objects in motion without dropping them. The very act of tossing and catching objects helped students to understand the basic physical principles involved in rotating a set of objects.

This article suggests a variety of simple hands-on activities and demonstrations for introducing physical science concepts associated with juggling. The goals of these exercises are as follows:

* To help students understand the juggling skills required to keep a set of rotating objects under control and in a predictable pattern.

* To suggest a simple set of tossing, dropping, and catching exercises designed to help students literally grasp a set of juggling concepts.

* To help students understand how balancing a set of stationary objects on a lever is analogous to balancing objects in motion.

* To provide several simple juggling routines designed to make the concepts and principles of juggling more tangible and meaningful.

The exercises in Figure 1 (p. 30) are designed to help clarify some key physical science concepts involved in juggling, such as force, motion, gravity, mass, and velocity. They are particularly helpful in demonstrating how mass and force affect rotating objects. Many upper-grade elementary students have already been introduced to many of these concepts based on their knowledge of simple machines. Before beginning the exercises, one or two volunteers can help demonstrate each of the concepts. For example, force can be shown by tossing a ball upward and observing how the force of gravity pulls the ball downward. Students can also observe how the upward velocity decreases as the object moves toward its apex and how objects with more mass require greater force to propel them upward than objects of less mass. For more information on the basic concepts and physics of juggling, see Internet Resources.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The hands-on exercises are simple to perform and do not require any ability to juggle. The teacher might want to divide the class into six groups and assign a different exercise to each group. Before beginning the exercise, ask the students to think about the question and predict the outcome. After the members of each group have had an opportunity to practice the exercise, rotate the groups until they have experienced all six exercises. After the groups have completed all of the exercises, ask them to summarize what they have learned from each exercise in the form of a conclusion.

Preparing Students to Juggle

Before the students learn how to juggle, invite someone who can juggle to visit your class. Because students can learn to juggle at a very early age, there is a strong likelihood that at least a few students in the school can juggle two or three balls. During the demonstration, encourage the class to carefully observe the position of the juggler's hands, arms, legs, and the objects being juggled. They should notice that each object is the same size and weight and small enough to grasp within the palm of the hand. They will also likely notice that the upward tossed object reaches about eye level and that the juggler's eyes are focused on the elevated object and not on the hands. After observing a live demonstration, the teacher should ask the students the following questions based on their observations:

* Why is it important to toss each object upward in front of the juggler at about eye level? …

If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.
Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.
Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
• Saved book/article
• Highlights
• Quotes/citations
• Notes
• Bookmarks
Notes

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Juggling Makes Physics Fun: Elementary Students Learn the Physical Science Concepts Behind Juggling
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Reset View mode
Search within

Look up

Look up a word

• Dictionary
• Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

How to highlight and cite specific passages

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

New feature

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit OpenDyslexic.org.

To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.