How can teachers make a pendulum?
Teachers can create a pendulum by suspending a weighted object
from a small A-frame, such as an infant gym, or from a 6-inch
blunt hook inserted into a pegboard divider or the back of a shelf.
Teachers can also construct small pendulum frames. Illustrations
and instructions for creating pendulums accompany each pendu-
What is the best way to display simple machines and
A science area in the classroom, which includes a low bench or
small table to hold the materials, is ideal. The area should be large
enough to accommodate several children to encourage shared
experiences. A bulletin board, pegboard divider, or the back of a
shelf provides an area for mounting pictures and relevant print.
How long should each activity remain in the classroom?
Two to three weeks is typical, although additions or modifica-
tions to the area may occur several times during this period.
Children need ample time to explore the many possibilities re-
lated to the activities. For example, children might initially use
a pendulum to knock down blocks. During the second week, the
teacher might shorten the rope on the pendulum so children
could experience how this change affects the outcome. During the
third week, children might adjust the rope length themselves.
What is the teacher’s role?
The teacher’s role is to facilitate the children’s construction of
knowledge. This begins with a carefully designed activity that
encourages children to experiment and explore and to observe
and communicate the results. Teachers can encourage this
process through well-timed comments and questions that stimu-
late thinking. In addition, as teachers observe children interacting
with the materials, they can plan and introduce additions or mod-
ifications that extend the thinking process.
Integrating science activities throughout the curriculum is
another way for teachers to facilitate and expand the construction
of knowledge. For example, after children have experimented
with pendulums in the science area, the teacher might plan an art
activity where children paint with pendulums (activity 5.11).