How does physics play a part in the playground equipment, e.g.
swings, can this be presented in a science demonstration at a science carnival?
One can use physics to explain how everything on a playground works.
In fact, physics is involved in every aspect of everyone's daily life. So maybe
what you want to do is get a book, like "The Flying Circus of Physics" to get
you started on looking for classroom ideas.
Jack L. Uretsky
One simple demonstration is the period of a swing. It swings
back and forth, and you can time it. The period should be
proportional to the length of the chains holding up the swing,
and should not depend on the weight of the person (or
nothing) sitting in the swing. The period is also independent
of the amplitude of swinging - except when the swing goes
REALLY high. For low amplitude swinging (where the period does not depend
on amplitude) this is a perfect example of one of the most
ubiquitous objects in physics - the harmonic oscillator - which
is exemplified in everything from swings, clock pendulum,
quartz oscillators, LC circuits, earthquakes, and just about anything
else that has a regular period (well not really for earthquakes,
but the ringing modes of the earth and other planets and stars).
Another great demonstration is with the see-saw. Can you balance
two people with the same weight? Easy. With one person twice
as heavy as the other? Just have the heavier person sit twice
as close to the center of the see-saw and it should balance!
And of course there is friction on the slide. Test out a few
anti-friction devices and see how fast people can get going
down that thing (well, be careful with this!)
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Update: June 2012