Throughout my high school career, I wasn’t what one would call a Science Whiz. Most of 9th grade Earth Science was spent passing notes with my lab partner. My favorite (extra credit!) project in 10th grade Biology was when I sculpted ¬†lungs . . . out of spice cake! And 11th grade Chemistry? The only thing I remember from that class is a cute boy.

However, 12th grade Physics was amazing! I was fortunate to have had a very gifted teacher who, if he had wanted to, could have made trimming toenails seem like the most exciting thing on the planet. I learned stuff that year. A lot of stuff I never even knew I was interested in learning about, and declared physics my favorite class (even over Art and English, which is saying a lot!). With such fond memories of learning science, I couldn’t wait to introduce the boys to basic Physics concepts. Sledding, our favorite winter activity, seemed like a great place to begin!

The Science of Sledding

Newton’s First Law of Motion

The Law of Inertia states that an object at rest, will stay at rest, until acted upon by an outside force.

Ask your child: What do you think will happen if no one pushes your sled?

Show your child: Refrain from pushing his sled for a moment. Demonstrate that unless an outside force (you) pushes it, it won’t go anywhere. Next, push his sled and watch him fly!

The Science of Sledding 2

Likewise, The Law of Inertia also states that an object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force that causes a change in velocity.

Ask your child: Can you think of some reasons why your sled would stop moving?

Tell your child: Crashing into a tree will stop your sled. Thick, rough snow “off your path” adds friction and will cause your sled to slow down or stop. And yes, colliding with your brother will also cause you to stop moving!

The Science of Sledding 3


Friction is defined as resistance to movement between two objects that are in contact with each other. There is typically less friction between smooth surfaces.

Ask your child: Do you think your sled would go faster on the ice, or the snow? Why?

Show your child: Let him test his theory (under supervision).

The Science of Sledding 5


Gravity is the attraction between two objects that occupy space and have mass.

Tell your child: Gravity is the force that pulls us down and keeps our feet on the ground. Gravity pulls your sled down the hill!

Show your child: Toss a snowball up into the air. What happens? You’ll see gravity (and Newton’s Third Law of Motion) in action!

The Science of Sledding 4

Teaching children science doesn’t have to be boring and straight from a text-book. My teacher from high school made physics fun because he showed his students how to apply it in simple, every day activities – like sledding. I can’t wait to teach Colin and Owen more about everyday science and then maybe, just maybe, I will be brave enough to dive into math (my worst subject, ever!).

16 comments on “Let’s Learn About: The Science of Sledding

  1. Michele Strobeck

    Melissa – you are amazing and inspiring!! I really really enjoy reading your posts!! My poor physics teacher was also amazing (I think it must be a requirement or something) but alas the cute boy coupled with the fact that it was the last class of my day (Senior year nonetheless) won out and physics never really sparked my attention. This post did though!! Looks like you all had fun!

  2. Ashley

    Thanks so much for linking up to Mom’s Library! I love fun hands on science activities, so this is awesome. Might even make me enjoy the snow more!

  3. Kim @ The Educators' Spin On It

    What amazing photos you’ve captured of this terrific hands on science fun! I’m so jealous sitting here in the backyard watching the kids play in the green grass with flowers starting to bloom for spring. Thank you so much for sharing on our After School Link Up. Can’t wait to see what you share this week! Secretly hoping it’s something frozen :)

  4. Erin

    Love it! I wish we had some snow here so I could go out with the boys and play. I mean learn. :)

  5. Carla

    Awesome!!! I love, love, love science, and I think the way you brought it into a fun activity like sledding is brilliant!! For the first time in…um…7 years, I find myself wishing we had snow outside!! Pinning!!

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