Particular Concepts: Hands-On Particulate Physics Activities (Secondary-Adult)

Particular Concepts: Model Construction and Templates (Secondary-Adult)

By Elsie Spry
Particular Concepts
www.particularconcepts.org

Particular Concepts: Hands-On Particulate Physics Activities and Particular Concepts: Model Construction and Templates are manuals for hands-on physics activities for grades 7 through 12. In addition to the manuals, you will need various items to complete the experiments. For Particular Concepts: Hands-On Particulate Physics Activities, you will need items such as a ruler, boxes, sandpaper, Duplo blocks, rice or sand, and other household or easily obtained items. For Particular Concepts: Model Construction and Templates, you will need tape, Lego and Duplo blocks, clear clipboards, rubber bands, chopsticks, and sand.

Particular Concepts: Hands-On Particulate Physics Activities contains eight different hands-on activities that "apply the forces of particulates." Each activity includes a "Discussion/Explanation" page, worksheets with questions for the student, and charts to record findings. The activities include "Sliding Box," "Ramp Force," "Angle-of-Repose," "Density," "Rankine Unchained," "Spry Retaining Tower," and "In The Groove." In addition, there is a section on inductive and deductive reasoning, followed by "'Particular' Compound Machine: Ancient Mystery," where the objective is to "move, raise, and erect an obelisk, using materials and machines readily available to the Ancient Egyptians."

Particular Concepts: Model Construction and Templates contains plans to build a "'Spry Shear Cell Model," a "'Particular Wall Retaining Tower," an "In The Groove Turning Tower," as well as the "Ancient Mystery" project that is listed above. These models are all constructed with Lego and/or Duplo, and there is a chart that lists the blocks you will need. There is no explanation for the projects, only instructions and templates. There are YouTube videos available (accessible from the Particular Concepts website) that show a quick assembly of the project and what the final outcome should be.

I found these books to be extremely confusing, and I can't see myself ever using them in our homeschool. I enjoy science and am typically not intimidated by it, but I have no degree or serious background in physics. Even after studying these manuals, I'm unsure about my ability to teach the concepts. The presentation of information is puzzling, and the YouTube videos show the experiments but offer no explanation. The website is difficult to navigate. I was unable to locate these books on the website, so I don't know how much they cost. They might be great for an older student who is strong in physics, or for a parent who has a background in physics, but I would hesitate to recommend them.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010