About the event
Edinburgh Science is more than just an organisation that runs a Festival. Our schools touring programme, Generation Science, is the UK’s longest running STEM outreach programme for primary schools, with 2020 marking our 29th year of operation. Every year we send between 10–15 interactive ‘education environments’, (linked to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence) around the country, visiting schools in each local authority in Scotland and delivering around 1,500 workshops and performances for primary children.
Our Generation Science shows and workshops are designed to engage young learners using larger-than-life props, actions and experiments. We can’t recreate all that in your living room, but we hope that these activities can get you thinking about the topics in our shows.
Ready, Teddy Go
Best suited for ages 5–8
Ready, Teddy, Go! is an interactive workshop exploring the fundamentals of forces. Our characters help children make predictions and conduct experiments to learn how things move, why objects always fall when we drop them and why balls will never roll along the ground forever. Interactive activities focus on pushing, pulling, gravity and friction.
The following activities are designed to get young people to think about the forces all around us, how friction affects the way things move and how magnetic forces can work at a distance.
These questions are designed to get you and your home learners talking about the science behind these activities. We don’t expect you to know everything there is to know about forces, but we do find that exploring and questioning what we know inspires us to find out more. Try using some of these Big Questions below to spark curiosity and see what other questions come up as you are completing these activities. We have provided some smaller steps under each question to help with your discussions as you’re exploring.
Starter Question: What is gravity?
Q: Can you see gravity? If you can’t see it, can you see gravity working?
Hint: When we see something fall, it’s falling because of gravity
Q: Can you feel gravity? How does it affect your body?
Hint: When you jump, gravity pulls you back down again. When you sit in a chair, gravity pulls you into the chair. If you think about it, you can feel gravity working
Q: How does gravity affect the sun, earth and the moon?
Hint: Gravity keeps the earth moving around in the sun, in orbit. And it keeps the moon in orbit around the earth.
Q: What is gravity?
Hint: It is a pulling force between 2 objects. The bigger an object is, the bigger the force.
Starter Question: If you roll a ball on the ground, it slows down. Why does it do that?
Q: What is the ball made of? And what is the ground made of? Does that affect how fast the ball goes? Does it make a difference if the ball is bigger, or smaller? Does it matter if you roll the ball on a smooth table, or a bumpy carpet?
Hint: Friction is a force that slows down the ball. There is less friction between smooth surfaces than rough surfaces. The more friction there is, the more it will slow the ball down.
Starter Question: How do you make a magnet?
Q: What magnets can you find around the house? What do they look like? What do magnets stick to?
Hint: Permanent magnets are made of metals, and must contain iron, nickel, cobalt or some rare metals like neodymium. You can make a temporary magnet by running electricity through a wire around a metal. This is called an electromagnet.
Q: Where do you think magnets are made?
Hint: Magnets are usually made in industrial factory processes. A combination of metals is melted, poured into moulds, heated and then put in a strong magnetic machine.
Extension activities and questions
Look around the place you live, can you notice things that you push, pull or twist? Try labelling them and see how many you can find. Can you use the words push, pull and twist in a sentence? Does that give you a clue about which things are which? Can you find something that you can pull, but you can’t push?
Parachutes are really good way to slow things down, they catch the air as they fall. Try challenging people you live with to make an object that takes as long as possible to fall. You could use materials you can find around the house, and make sure you let go of the objects at the same height every time to make it a fair test.
Can you make an object that floats in water? Try it in a bucket, or the sink. What shape does the object need to be so that it doesn’t sink? You could try making something out of paper, or plasticine.
Try our other Kid’s Lab activities here
Links to help your young learners
A short animation about magnets and what they do
What is gravity? An explanation with further details about gravity and space
Some activities and explanations of gravity and magnets
Two short investigations with magnets for children
Playing with water and gravity
Making easy rockets
An animation and a short interactive quiz about friction
A video about how magnets are made