Physics projects are some of the most memorable science projects your kids will ever try. There, I said it even if you don’t believe it!
You see, physics is the branch of science that studies flying, launching, moving, and floating, as well as magnets, motors and electrical circuits, heat, light, and sound. Physics is fun! After you look over some of the projects in this collection I hope you’ll agree.
Now before we begin I want to address a common notion a lot of folks have about this branch of science: Physics is really hard! I completely understand this thought.
In fact the only class I ever almost failed in my entire academic career was physics. And I know why. Physics was presented to me as formulas about force, equilibrium, and momentum with not one single demonstration. Then I walked into a structural engineering class where we discussed the forces at work in designing buildings and my teacher told us he didn’t want us to open a book all quarter. Instead he told us to build models. He wanted us to experiment with how forces really interact in a structure by testing them in hands-on experiments. It was a profound experience for me and suddenly all the book learning “clicked.”
My goal with this collection of projects is to make physics more accessible and inviting to parents, teachers, and kids alike! But before we dive into the physics projects let’s get a bird’s eye view of what physics is all about!
What is the study of physics?
Physics is the branch of science that studies matter, how it moves and how it interacts. It is a HUGE topic and there is a lot of overlap with chemistry and biology. It’s really easy to hear the word physics and have your eyes glaze over, but in simple words physics is the study of how things move and interact with each other.
How do you explain physics to a child?
The best way to explain physics to kids is to skip an explanation and do a demonstration. Since physics encompasses the study of motion, light, electricity, magnetism, and aerodynamics, instead of trying to explain these concepts demonstrate them! I am a big believer in hands-on projects that give kids a chance to experience and experiment with a scientific concept rather than just hear or read about it. We all know an amazing project is memorable while a wordy explanation is forgettable. Kids are great visual learners so give them the chance to get excited about physics through projects!
What are main branches of Physics?
While I was assembling this post I realized scientists define the branches of physics in many different ways. The following is a list of the most commonly cited branches of physics compiled from both online and offline resources:
- Mechanics This includes force, motion, fluid and aerodynamics, and is the branch most people think of when they hear the word physics.
- Electromagnetism Electricity is physics!
- Sound and Waves
- Quantum Mechanics This is for the very serious! It’s the branch that studies atomic particles.
80+ Physics Projects for Kids
How to use this guide
The physics projects for kids featured here are sorted by branches of physics and subcategories as follows (click on the topic to skip to that section):
- Mechanics and Motion: Work & Energy, Newton’s Law’s of Motion, Radial Forces, Gravity, and Balance
- Electromagnetism & Electricity: Magnetism, Electricity
- Optics & Sound
- Heat, Liquids, and Air: Thermodynamics, Hydrodynamics, & Aerodynamics
Some topics and categories were really easy to find great projects for (work and energy) some were more challenging (thermodynamics) and at least one impossible (Quantum mechanics, but that’s okay!). We tried to assemble as many as we could on this list!
Please note that many of these projects could fit in two or more categories as they demonstrate various principles and forces. I only classified them once on this list.
Mechanics and Motion
When most people think of physics they think about mechanics and motion. Mechanics refers to the motion of objects and motion is the position change of an object over time. Everything around us is constantly in motion. Even when we consider ourselves to be sitting still, the earth is rotating on its axis and moving around the sun.
Scientists have studied motion over the centuries and determined there are laws that can explain the motion of objects. These laws revolve around the idea of forces.
A force is something that pushes or pulls on an object to make it move. A force can make an object speed up (like kicking a ball) or or slow down (like friction) or hold an object in place (like gravity). Momentum is the force an object has based on its weight and motion. For a deeper look into forces go here.
In this section we’ll cover projects that focus on motion including 3 of the most famous laws of motion as outlined by Sir Isaac Newton.
Featured Work & Energy Videos:
Featured Radial Forces Videos:
Featured Gravity Videos:
Featured Balance Project Videos
Electromagnetism & Electricity
Did you know that electricity and magnetism are physics topics? Both of these “invisible” forces are some of kids’ favorites to explore through hands-on projects!
Featured Magnetism Videos
Featured Electricity Videos
Optics & Sound
What we see and hear is determined by physics! This includes the behavior of light waves and sounds waves, those that we can perceive and those we cannot.
Featured Optics Videos
Featured Sound Videos
Heat, Liquids, and Air
Physics also covers the study of heat and fluid dynamics which includes aerodynamics (the study of movement in air and gases) and hydrodynamics (the study of movement in liquids) .
Featured Thermodynamics Videos
Featured Hydrodynamics Videos
More Physics for Kids Resources
The following websites are terrific resources for more information on the wonderful world of physics! These all offer in depth explanations about the phenomena we touched on above and some of them also offer additional physics projects to try.
More Science on Babble Dabble Do
There’s lots more science on Babble Dabble Do! Here are some additional projects collections for you to check out: