Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Fun Physics Activities for Kids


Curve Balls

You may have heard the term 'curve ball' in baseball, but does a ball really curve in flight? The Curve Ball physics activity is a fun way for curious kids to find out how a rounded object moves in flight.

This activity requires either a windless day, a school gymnasium, or another large, indoor space to throw a ball in -- and we don't recommend the family room in your house.

What You'll Need:

  • Ping-pong ball
  • Waterproof marker
  • Playing field marked with straight lines (like a baseball diamond)
  • Paper towel tube

To prepare, color one half of the ping-pong ball with the marker. This will help reveal what happens to it in flight. Stand on a marked line on the playing field or gym and instruct your child to throw the ping-pong ball straight down the line. Have him/her throw it in such a way that the ball doesn't spin at all. What path does the ball take?Now, have your child put the ball in one end of the paper tube. Holding the other end, fling the ball out of the tube, trying to throw it straight. What path does it take now? Try this several times. The ball will probably spin. The axis of the spin is perpendicular to the flight path of the ball. The spin actually changes the path of the ball and makes it fly in a curve.The next physics activity teaches you how those incredible figure skaters spin around so fast. Keep reading, and get ready to head to the playground.Looking for more cool activities for kids? Check out these links:


More to Explore