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National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Annual Teachers Conference. University of Southern Mississippi. January 26, 2007. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA’s Toy Box Presented by: Diana Nunez Aerospace Education Specialist

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Mississippi Space Grant Consortium

Annual Teachers Conference

University of Southern Mississippi

January 26, 2007


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Toy Box

Presented by:

Diana Nunez

Aerospace Education Specialist

Educator Resource Center Coordinator

Mississippi Space Services (MSS)

John C. Stennis Space Center

nasa s mission for education
NASA’s Mission for Education

Attract and retain students in STEM disciplines





Strengthen NASA and the Nation’s future workforce

Engage Americans in NASA’s mission

nasa s toy box
NASA’s Toy Box

Grades: 5 – 12

Purpose: To explore physics concepts while having fun with toys!

  • Model a variety of hands-on activities related to physics using toys that are readily available.
  • To observe the behaviors of toys in microgravity on the International Toys in Space and Toys In Space II DVD’s and determine how microgravity affects the motions of familiar toys.
history of toys in space
History of Toys in Space

Toys in Space I


Space Shuttle Discovery

April, 1985

Toys in Space II


Space Shuttle Endeavour

January, 1993

International Toys in Space

Expedition 5

International Space Station


nasa core central operation of resources for educators http core nasa gov
NASA CORE Central Operation of Resources for Educators


Toys in Space


Toys in Space II




Activity Kits

International Toys in Space Cost: $409 Toys

Toys in Space 2

Cost: $25

6 Toys

international toys in space science on the station video resource guide
InternationalToys in Space Science on the StationVideo Resource Guide

toys in space ii video resource guide
Toys in Space IIVideo Resource Guide

nasa s toy box agenda
What is microgravity?

An explanation of freefall

Physics Concepts

A review of forces involved with today’s toys

Teaching Physics with Toys

Inquiry activities using toys to teach physics

Toys in Space

Inquiry activities examining the effects of microgravity on toys

NASA’s Toy BoxAgenda
gravity g
Gravity (g)

Gravity is a force of attraction between objects.

The more massive the object, the greater the pull. However, the object has to be really massive, like Earth,

for the pull to be obvious.

the g s
Earth’s gravity = 1 g

Provides a force of acceleration known as free fall (9.8 m/s2).

High g’s Any acceleration greater than free fall.

> 1 g

9.8 m/s2

Low g’s

Any acceleration

less than free fall.

< 1 g

< 9.8 m/s2

The g’s
  • Mass – the amount of matter an object contains
  • Weight– the magnitude of a gravitational pull
  • Ex. The moon’s gravitational pull is 1/6th that of earth.

You know you’re in

microgravity when . . . .

  • You sleep tethered to a wall or ceiling.
  • You turn a screw, but you turn instead.
  • A sneeze sends you flying backwards.
  • A drop of water forms a sphere and floats in the air.
  • The toilet acts like a vacuum cleaner, using flowing air instead of water.

Microgravity 8/13

NASA at the Amusement Park

what is microgravity1
What is microgravity?
  • Microgravity is an environment where some of the effects of gravity are reduced.
  • Objects may appearto be weightless in mg conditions.
  • You can create mg conditions with freefall.
water mystery
Water Mystery

What effect does gravity have on a falling can of water with a hole punched near the bottom?

physics friction
Physics - Friction
  • The force that makes it difficult for one object to slide over another
  • On earth, push an object and friction slows it down.
  • In space, there is no friction. If you push an object, it continues to move and is difficult to stop or change direction.

Precision Air Bearing Floor (PABF)

        • Simulates lack of friction in microgravity
        • Astronauts practice moving large objects without letting them get away
physics momentum
Physics - Momentum
  • Momentum = mass X velocity
  • Conservation of Momentum - In a collision of 2 objects, the momentum lost by object 1 is equal to the momentum gained by object 2.
physics centripetal and centrifugal force
Physics-Centripetal and Centrifugal Force
  • Centripetal Force – The inward force which causes an object to turn.
  • Centrifugal Force – The apparent outward force exerted by an object moving in a circle. In reality, the object is simply tying to move in a straight line.
physics angular momentum
PhysicsAngular Momentum
  • a measure of the amount of spin or orbital motion an object has. Ex. Gyroscope, wheel
  • Angular Momentum =

mass × velocity × distance (from point object is spinning or orbiting around)

  • Linear momentum and centripetal force combine to give an object angular momentum.
  • Angular momentum must be conserved – Conservation of Angular Momentum.
physics newton s 1st law of motion
Physics - Newton’s 1st Law of Motion
  • - An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion indefinitely along the same straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force.
  • Inertia(1) –an object tends to resist any change in its motion
physics newton s 1st law of motion1
Physics -Newton’s 1st Law of Motion

Whirl a yo-yo around on the end of its string.

What will happen when you let go of the string?

Why does a satellite orbit

the earth?

physics newton s 2 nd law of motion
Physics - Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion

Force = mass X acceleration

F = m X a

(ball) (ball)

F = m X a

(cannon) (cannon)

physics newton s 2 nd law of motion1
Physics - Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion
  • Would you apply a greater force to kick the basketball or the beach ball the same distance?
    • Baseball or a whiffle ball?
    • Golf ball or a ping pong ball?
physics newton s 3rd law of motion
Physics – Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Objects move forward

by pushing backward on

a surface or on a fluid.

teaching with toys balloons
Teaching with ToysBalloons
  • A cushion of air lifts hovercraft off of the surface and reduces friction.
  • Build a small hovercraft to demonstrate how it floats without friction.

Tabletop Hovercraft

nasaexplores http www nasaexplores com
  • Detailed lesson
  • plans and articles
  • Search engine
  • Teacher Sheets and Student Sheets
  • 3 Grade Levels:
    • K-4, 5-8, 9-12
teaching with toys marbles
Teaching with ToysMarbles
  • Collisions - Part 1-

Observe colliding marbles to demonstrate the law of conservation of momentum.

toys in space student investigations
Toys in SpaceStudent Investigations:
  • Describe how you play with this toy here on Earth.
  • Name the physics concepts that make this toy work.
  • Will toy work in space? Why?
  • Would you change anything to make toy work in space?
  • Results in microgravity (DVD)
toys in space boomerang
Make your own boomerang by cutting out the pattern and curving the blades upward.

Throw the boomerang with a vertical spin.

On Earth, a spinning boomerang exhibits angular momentum.

Boomerang does not return unless it is spinning.

Faster it is spinning and the more upward the curve of the blades, the more quickly it returns – Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

Gravity causes the boomerang to fall.

Blades act as propellers pushing back against the air and propelling it forward - Aerodynamics.

Axis of boomerang changes from vertical to horizontal causing it to return to thrower.

Toys in SpaceBoomerang
toys in space boomerang1
Toys in SpaceBoomerang
  • In space, there is no gravity to turn the boomerang from vertical to horizontal.
  • The boomerang continued to move forward and did not change orientation or return to the astronaut

- Newton’s First Law of Motion.

toys in space kendama or ball and cup
Toys in SpaceKendama or Ball and Cup

Make your own kendama with

a dixie cup, craft stick, string

and a ping pong ball.

  • Gravity causes the ball to fall into the cup and stay there.
toys in space kendama or ball and cup1
Toys in SpaceKendama or Ball and Cup
  • In space, the ball follows a straight path until it is snapped back when the string is stretched all the way out – Newton’s First Law of Motion.
  • The astronaut was able to get the ball into the cup by redirecting the ball toward it, but he had a hard time keeping it in the cup. The ball kept bouncing back out Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion (Action-reaction) because there was no gravity to help keep it in.
toys in space jump rope
Gravity pulls the jumper back down to the ground.

The jump rope circles the jumper by centripetal force.

Toys in SpaceJump rope
toys in space jump rope1
Toys in SpaceJump rope

When the rope circles in one direction, the free-floating astronaut may swing around in the other direction to conserveangular momentum.

toys in space klackers
Toys in SpaceKlackers
  • Balls move up by pushing down on the handle and move down by pushing up on the handle – Newton’s Third Law of Motion (Action-Reaction).
  • While the balls move around the handle, they possess momentum.
  • A stationary ball has no momentum. When the moving ball hits the stationary ball, it passes its momentum to the stationary one –Conservation of Angular Momentum.
toys in space klackers1
In space, the klacker’s motion where the balls hit on the top and bottom could be done.

The circular motion where you hit the ball at the bottom of each circle could not be mastered in space. There was no force (gravity) to hold the ball down at the bottom of the circle and it kept circling the handle with the other ball - momentum.

Toys in SpaceKlackers
toys in space basketball
Toys in SpaceBasketball
  • Gravity brings the ball down through the hoop.
  • A banked shot moves the ball forward by pushing back on the backboard – Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion.

Show Basketball movie clip

from Toys in Space II DVD

toys in space basketball1
Toys in SpaceBasketball
  • In space, the astronaut could not arc the ball into the basket (Newton’s First Law of Motion) or make a banked shot off the backboard.
  • To make a basket he had to bounce the ball off the ceiling or do a slam dunk.
toys in space car track
Toys in SpaceCar & Track
  • On Earth, the car moves forward by pushing backward on the track – Newton’s Third Law of Motion (Action-Reaction)
  • There is not enough acceleration generated by the car - Newton’s Second Law of Motion (F= M XA) to break the force of gravity. The car can’t circle the track.

Show Car and Track movie

clip from Toys in Space II DVD

toys in space car track1
Toys in SpaceCar & Track
  • In space, gravity does not act on the car, so the car will travel around the track until its engine winds down – Newton’s First Law of Motion. It will remain where it stopped until the track is moved.
  • Centrifugal force holds
  • the car against the track because there is no gravity pulling it down.