Pinball game for Tinker Studio class in Code Hobbits

Teaching Tinker Studio class through Visual and Kinesthetic Learning styles

Who says Newtonian physics is only for middle school kids? In our Tinker Studio class, elementary grade kids get enough opportunities to learn and master the fundamentals of middle-school physics. 

We believe starting with Newtonian equations for this age group won’t help the students much. So we indulge our students in kinesthetic activities that focus on simple machines and explain how forces and objects interact with each other. The idea behind this is to introduce topics such as gravity, acceleration, and inertia in a fun, hands-on manner. 

Our lesson plans are curated to maximize hands-on building time and minimize theoretical lessons. The objective is to inculcate an interest so that students develop curiosity about the subject, leading them to ask better questions throughout their schooling years and in life.

Let’s take a look at an example of the curriculum from Tinker Studio class:  

Instead of sharing any theoretical knowledge on Newtonian physics, we challenge students to build a pinball machine – A physical life-size pinball machine! It is a guided class wherein students build the machine from scratch with materials easily found in homes and offices. Our deeply trained staff supervises them and guides them through each step of the process. Students make errors and corrections to finally develop a model that works just like a real-world pinball machine. Students get hands-on experience in geometry and how gravity and friction work.

How does a pinball machine work? 

Pinball is a popular arcade game (and now a mobile app), in which points are scored by a player manipulating one or more balls on a playfield inside a glass-covered cabinet called a pinball machine. Ball when launched into the playfield can bounce off bumpers placed all over the field. Bumpers run on a solenoid below the field to pull down a ring on the bumper to push the ball in a different direction. These solenoids are coils that use magnetic pressure when activated. As a ball enters a bumper’s circumference, it will roll onto a ring that will drop to the field. When activated, the solenoid behind the bumper is triggered, kicking the ball into play. The primary objective of the game is to score as many points as possible and keep the ball on the playfield using paddles controlled by the player. 

Key points that students think and talk about

  • How does the motion of the ball change?
  • What would happen if the machine is not in an inclined position?
  • Which parts of the board are the hardest to reach? 

Students don’t cram any equations but build intuition for physics concepts while designing and making their pinball machines. 

  • “THINGS ARE LAZY – they want to keep doing what they are already doing. A stone at rest will continue to stay at rest and a moving car will continue to move till a force is applied to it. 
  • The more MASS there is, the force required to move that object will be more. If there are two backpacks of different weights, force applied to move a backpack with less weight will be less and vice versa. 
  • Action and reaction are equal, and opposite. If you hit a ball on the ground with a definite force, it will bounce back with the same force in the playing field. 

Making students understand the concepts through a balance of visual and kinesthetic activities helps them acquire Newtonian physics concepts easily when they are introduced to them in middle school.

 This practical exposure fosters a lifelong love of learning by indulging them in activities that are relatable and fun. 

Happy Making!