Asee peer logo

Exciting Children About Science And Engineering: The Science Of Playgrounds

Download Paper |


1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.272.1 - 3.272.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Elizabeth A. Parry

author page

Laura Bottomley

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 0492 WS/1

Exciting Children About Science and Engineering: The Science of Playgrounds Laura J. Bottomley, Ph. D., Elizabeth A. Parry North Carolina State University/Science Surround

This paper describes a variety of hands-on demonstrations for use in the K-12 classroom which connect science to a venue familiar to most children: a playground. We have designed these experiments to be fun and easy to do and to have the kind of appeal for children that will make the science involved seem easy, exciting and fun. The experiments are deliberately designed to use readily available and inexpensive materials. The purpose of these demonstrations is many- fold, but primarily to excite kids about science and engineering. They illustrate various basic principles from physics and can be used to easily discuss various aspects of mechanical engineering. Many of the experiments are useful for differentiating science from engineering as well. We also find that the hands-on approach to learning increases the understanding and retention of the scientific principles under study.

The demonstrations deal with various equipment found on typical playgrounds. The demonstrations themselves have been used with children as young as three years and as old as college freshmen. Three basic centers are used: an inclined plane, a pendulum and a balance center (see picture).

The children are allowed to experiment freely at each center after a short introduction and demonstration by the teacher. We point out that science supplies the basic physical principles that allow the playground equipment to operate, while it is the responsibility of the engineer to apply those principles to make the playground fun and safe.

Parry, E. A., & Bottomley, L. (1998, June), Exciting Children About Science And Engineering: The Science Of Playgrounds Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7113

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1998 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015