This quirky contraption isn't a true gyroscope, but it relies on the gyroscopic effect to produce some impossible-looking stunts.
As always, begin by demonstrating how the project works. Next, walk the students through the construction process, explaining key design elements along the way. Notable design features to explain include: leaving gaps for the wheels at the end of the launcher, the 4-wheeled spinner, and the cable tie & string function.
Explaining the gyroscopic effect in conceptual terms so that a 1st grader can understand can be difficult. I explain it like this: Most of the time, gravity will pull an object down. But not so with the gyroscopic effect. There is a law of physics (conservation of angular momentum) that states that once an object starts spinning, it will keep spinning the same direction until something affects it. So gravity is not strong enough to change the direction of the spinner and pull it down. Eventually the spinner will run out of energy, and then gravity can pull it down.
(readers: please correct me if I'm wrong or feel free to offer a better explanation).
Through the teacher's lecture, students will gain an elementary understanding of how the gyroscopic effect works.
Students will experientially understand how energy from the pull-cord can be transferred into the wheels
Students will directly observe the conservation of angular momentum by operating their own whirligigs. By observing, students will acquire a visual and experiential understanding of how this law of physics works.
Step 1: Materials
4 1/2 sticks
6 craft cubes
1 bamboo skewers
1 cable tie
1 12" length of string