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Science Without a Net: Week 2

For all of the official (and free!) “Science Without A Net” lesson plans please see here.

We are now on to week two of “Forces and Energy”, and I continue to be really impressed by FarrarWilliams’s Science Without A Net plans. Be sure to check them out for yourself! Today we had the added bonus of my husband being home to help with our experiments, and this really pushed the scientific discussion to a much higher level than I would have thought to take it by myself. (Of course, as I often remind my husband, just because you have engineering degree from Stanford doesn’t mean you can find your keys.) But I digress… 🙂

Our topic for today was how energy cannot be created, but can be transferred from one form to another. Here are pictures from the experiments we did. I am probably going to splice them together into a larger homemade book about energy in a few days. Our printer is out of ink at the moment, and I’m still waiting for the replacement cartridges to arrive.

Part 2 of our book on Energy

Energy cannot be created, but it can be transferred from one form to another.

We tried out an experiment in the garage using the tennis ball that hangs from

the string and helps mom park the car in the right place.

Dad pulled the ball all the way to Bruce’s nose. The tennis ball had a lot of potential energy.

Once the tennis ball started swinging, the potential energy turned into kinetic energy.  It never hit Bruce’s nose because the tennis ball could not have more kinetic energy than the potential energy we loaded it up with.

Our next experiment with was with a sock full of rice that we taped to the table. Bruce pulled the sock back and loaded it with potential energy.

Then he let go of the sock and the sock hit the can.

The potential energy turned into kinetic energy, and sent the can rolling.

Next we tried the same experiment, but this time we used the magic can that we made last week.

When the regular can hit the magic can, the magic can rolled back, hit can #1 and then hit the sock. It was a chain reaction! Mom asked why the cans didn’t keep rolling on and on forever, and Bruce knew the answer.

Friction was causing some of the energy to go into the floor. Eventually the cans stopped rolling, and the sock stopped being hit.

The last investigation we did was with solar powered calculators. Bruce’s calculator is very new and works really well. The solar cells are not very big. Mom’s calculator is twenty years old and does not work as well. The solar cells on Mom’s calculator are really big. Maybe that’s because solar technology has improved a lot over the years, or maybe Mom’s calculator needs larger solar cells because it can do fancier things.

Science Without a Net: Week 1

For all of the official (and free!) “Science Without A Net” lesson plans please see here.

Our Science Without A Net topic for this week is Energy. We had a lot of fun learning about the scientific definition of energy and all of its forms.

Here is the homemade book we made to help us remember what we learned about energy this week. For more on the how and why of homemade books, please see here.


This week we learned about Energy. We read Energy Makes Things Happen by Kimberly Bradley.

We made origami frogs out of paper. When the frog is just sitting there, it is full of potential energy.

When the frog is jumping, it is full of kinetic energy.

We put a ball at the top of the stairs. When the ball was at the top of the stairs it was full of potential energy.

When the ball was rolling down the stairs it was full of kinetic energy.

We built a magic can. The further away the can rolled, the more potential energy it had. The rubber band inside the can stores energy when the can rolls.

We made brownies. Stirring the brownies used kinetic energy.

Baking the brownies used heat energy.

Since they are a food, brownies are fuel for our bodies. Fuel gives us energy.

Milk is also a fuel which gives our bodies energy. The milk we drink with our brownies came from cows that ate grass. It takes solar energy from the sun to grow grass.

The last experiment we did was with sound energy. Crashing the cymbals together created sound waves. The sound waves made the salt bounce off of the plastic. Dad jumped too, because it was really loud!