Learning while doing is by far the best way to cement material. Junk Drawer Physics is filled with 50 different experiments and builds to help the learner understand physics. Understand potential energy, vibrations, magnetism and more by creating toys and small machines as well as conducting experiments.
About the Book and Author
Bobby Mercer has been a high school physics teacher for over 20 years. He takes that knowledge and turns it into practical, hands-on experiments. His assumption is that you have what you need right in your own home.
Turn a plastic cup into a Pinhole Camera using waxed paper, a rubber band, and a thumbtack. Build a swing wave machines using a series of washers suspended on strings from a yardstick. Use a cork, string, and water-filled plastic bottle to create a simple Accelerometer. Or construct your own Planetarium from an empty potato chip canister, construction paper, scissors, and a pin.
What you Get
Six chapters divided over 194 pages.
Chapter titles are
- Forces and Motion
- Sound and Waves
- Electricity and Magnetism
- Fluids and Pressure
50 Experiments which include builds such as a cork accelereomter. ball blaster, straw oboe, Pringles Planetarium, No-touch race car, and ketchup diver. The experiments all vary from each other which I really like. You know how sometimes you can get a STEM book where they say x number of projects and then you find it’s project a that becomes b and in the end it just feels like one project with different steps to it. Junk Drawer Physics doesn’t do that.
One of the projects we made was the air horn. We found the instructions very easy to follow and because we were using random items from around the house we were able to make two different ones that sounded quite different from each other.
Because they were different from each other we were able to expand our knowledge base as well, comparing the lower and higher notes we made. This would be fascinating to do with a larger group and then see if we could make our own air horn musical group. 🙂 haha
Most of the time pictures are used to help convey expectations for the project, but as you can see above, sometimes simple diagrams are used.
There is always a materials list that proceeds the directions for any given experiment.
The close of the experiment tells you why it happened, or what principle is being demonstrated. This gives you time, if you choose not to read the explanation, to come up with your own explanation using deductive and logical reasoning.
Today my son woke me up asking “Mom, for my hands on stuff today, can I do experiments out of Junk Drawer”? Fridays is our “hands on plus do what’s important for you” day. So for him to choose Junk Drawer Physics over taking apart electronics, working on his crossbow, or any of his other projects that he is working on, tells you what he thinks of it.
Easy experiments that he can do on his own, figure out on his own, and if he can’t, tells him what he needs to know. Makes it a winner in my eyes.
Age level? It’s hard to say. To me these experiments are great for youth 7 years old and up. I’ve been doing science with my lad since he was very little so I have full confidence in his abilities. Although, I have seen in the grade 9/10 science courses I mark that, not all students have that same level of confidence.
It would be easy to make these experiments harder for highschool students by having them to define what principle the experiment is showing before revealing the science behind it. Younger students might need to have the answer given to them, or be asked questions to help them figure it out on their own.
Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments that don’t cost a thing.
Chicago Review Press.
Softcover, 204 pages,
Physics, Science, Experiments,
Reviewed for Chicago Review Press.