A domino experiment is a great way to introduce or practice measuring speed. It can also be used to explore cause and effect, kinetic energy, or motion. The experiment is adaptable for ages preschool to high school. We did the experiment at home with first grader Aiden and toddler Lily. My husband does this experiment with his 9th graders.
What You’ll Need
- 20-30 dominoes
- Meter stick or ruler
- Level space to set up the dominoes
How to Conduct the Experiment
Stand up the dominoes in a straight line. Use the ruler or meter stick to make the spacing between the dominoes even. What spacing distance will give you the fastest speed?
Measure the total length of your dominoes chain. Tip over the end domino and time how long it takes for all of the dominoes to fall. Divide the total distance (the length of your dominoes chain) by the time it takes for all of the dominoes to fall. This will give you the average speed.
Change the spacing between your dominoes and run the experiment again. We compared 1 inch spacing with 1.5 inch spacing. What other distances will you try?
The dominoes should go the fastest when the distance between them is half the length of a domino. Our dominoes were 2 inches in length, so 1 inch spacing was the fastest for us.
In addition to a straight line, Aiden wanted to make a curved path of dominoes. It took him a few tries as he accidentally kept setting them off.
I mentioned at the beginning of the post that this experiment was doable with preschoolers. It just takes some patience and decent fine motor skills to set up the dominoes correctly. For young kids, the spacing doesn’t have to be perfect. They will benefit from just seeing the domino chain reaction. For more cause and effect science for toddlers and preschoolers check out our Exploring Cause and Effect with Trains investigation.
To keep toddler Lily occupied while we ran the experiment, she practiced counting and measuring dominoes with a ruler.
More Physics Experiments for Kids
- A marble drop experiment is a great way to explore how height and mass affect force.
- Set up a Car Target Launch STEM Challenge for a quick science and engineering problem that gets everyone thinking.
- 20 Preschool Physics Experiments – I love this collection of experiments that are perfect for younger kids
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