Ask a 6-year-old to recite Newton’s laws of motion and the best you’re likely to get is theorizing about fig-filled cookies. But let the same kid loose amid swings, slides and seesaws and she’s bound to know what to do. Exhibit planners at Boston’s Museum of Science were counting on that when they put together their newest permanent exhibit, “Science in the Park.”
Science in the Park brings the playground indoors, pairing park toys with more traditional experimental setups that demonstrate the same physical principle. A seesaw, for example, sits next to a giant lever with a 225-kilogram weight hanging from one side of the fulcrum and climbing ropes hanging from the other-the notion of torque springs to life as kids see how much easier it is to lift the weight when they tug the rope farthest from the fulcrum. To demonstrate variation in surface friction, the museum has assembled an assortment of shoes; kids drag the shoes across different surfaces and read a built-in force meter to compare resistance.
By offering kids the chance to play with the equipment, the museum encourages them to be amateur scientists, experimenting with forces and motion to answer such questions as: What makes the fastest swing? Which shoes are best for running? The youngest children, says exhibit planner Susan Sunbury, can “feel the physics” as they run, jump, spin and swing. Slightly older kids can measure their movement or that of models using colorful distance markers and motion-sensor-triggered lights. If they’re ready to “get a little quantitative,” they can try to interpret the computer-generated graphs of force and velocity that are displayed at many of the activity sites.
The exhibit is part of a long-term strategy to transform the museum into an active center of “inquiry learning.” Vice President of Exhibits Larry Bell says he hopes this “science thinking skills approach” will be a model for other museums nationwide.
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?
Perovskites are promising, but real-world conditions have held them back.
The baby formula shortage has birthed a shady online marketplace
Desperate parents just want to feed their babies. They’re having to contend with misinformation, price gouging, and scams along the way.
I tried to buy an Olive Garden NFT. All I got was heartburn.
Our newest issue spells out what you need to know about the dizzying world of digital money.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.