Motion on the Mo’ River

It’s been a busy few weeks on the MosSE Spring tour! This week, 418 Fort Benton Longhorns, Geraldine Tigers, and Highwood Mountaineers learned about the physics of motion.  Fort Benton hosted the whole shebang, including Family Science Night, which brought in a crowd of 44 children and 36 adults.

MosSE’s Motion exhibit aims to make physics fun and relatable to everyday observations and experiences. When talking about the works of Bernoulli, Newton, Kepler, and Einstein, one can’t help but appreciate that the true genius of these scientific greats wasn’t necessarily in their abilities to solve complex math problems (though that helps!), but rather in their abilities to look at everyday phenomena and understand them on truly vast or mind-bogglingly small scales.  For example, our Gravity Well station applies Kepler’s works on planetary motion and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to a coin spinning round and round a cone.

A lot of curiosity at Family Science Night tends to revolve around the Gravity Well.

A lot of curiosity at Family Science Night tends to revolve around the Gravity Well.

Visitors to Motion learn that spin has a lot to do with stability.  The Giant Turntable explores this principle, and it’s neat to see what kinds of examples kids can come up with on their own.  How is a spinning disc on the turntable similar to a bicycle in motion, and what do gravity, angular momentum, and centrifugal ‘force’ have to do with some of the fun experiments we conduct? The Giant Turntable is also a great way to talk about testing hypotheses, collecting data, and developing theories.

The physics behind spinning things can be conveyed in so many different ways, whether we’re talking about our solar system, a figure skater doing a pirouette, or playing with a fun and challenging toy.

“Figure skaters” learning about conservation of angular momentum.

Some 'helicupters' going up, up, and away!

Some ‘helicupters’ going up, up, and away!

Our excellent host, Mrs. Arganbright, told us that every year that MosSE visits the Longhorns, more people come out for Family Science Night, which was terrific to hear!  We would like to thank the students, faculty, and staff from Fort Benton, Highland, and Geraldine for their enthusiasm, curiosity, and hospitality. It was a real pleasure learning about physics with everyone!


Sarah and Matt