Hands On Gainesville

Scientists inspiring a new generation of problem-solvers.

Swing Set Pendulum Play


Sit on a swing.

Ask a friend or a parent/ guardian to be your exploration partner and to hold your feet and pull you and the swing towards them as they step backwards.   Be careful to not slip off the swing.

Ask your partner not to move backwards as they release your feet.  Tell them to just let go and not to push.   Don’t move your body as you swing backwards.   How close do you get to your partner on your return swing?  Can you make it all the way back to them without moving (without adding more energy by pumping your legs)?



Sand Lever

How do these sand cranes  help you move the sand?

Fill a sand bucket with sand and try to lift it by the handle.

Now try to lift the filled sand bucket using the sand crane.   Which way of lifting makes the sand bucket feel lighter?  Does the machine help you do this work?

Slide Science

Take a turn( or twenty ) on the slide.

Note: First make sure the slide is cool enough to play on.  Slides can get very hot in the sun!!!   Second make sure you have your parent’ s permission to take off your shoes and socks.

Try sliding down the slide in the following ways:

Sit with your knees tucked to your chest and lift your feet off the slide.

Sit with your knees tucked to your chest and keep your shoes on the slide.

Take off your shoes and with just your socks on, sit with your knees tucked to your chest and keep your socked feet on the slide.

Take off your shoes and socks, sit with your knees tucked to your chest and keep your bare feet on the slide.

What do you observe about how quickly you slide down in each of these ways?  What do you think might be causing the changes you observe in how fast you slide?


Sliding Surfaces


Compare how fast objects like small rocks, leaves, twigs, balls, etc. slide down the slide.  Hypothesize which objects will slide down faster.  Try to group the objects by how fast they slide down and try to see if you observe a pattern.  Do all big objects fall faster or does it depend on weight?  Could it be how smooth or rough the object is that determines how it slides? What about the shape of the object?

Note: Only release the object, never throw it.  Only release it on an empty slide with no other people on the slide or near the bottom of the slide.  Safety first!!!



Check out our Playground Kit at the Public Library

Want to explore more?


Kits to help you explore physics on the playground are available for you to check out at the Public Library.   You’ ll find objects with different surfaces to explore friction forces on the slide, a bucket to fill with sand, weights to hang on the rope ladders to experiment with the center of gravity and how to balance your weight without twisting the ladder, and more activities to help you see the science of physics at work in the playground.