Homeschool Lesson on Going Round the Bend

I was out in the car with Annie recently and she started asking lots of questions about why trams only go down certain roads, why do some streets have signs with no trucks allowed, why can’t the tram tracks just turn down every street, why is the truck turning from the middle lane. Much discussion between us ensued and it occurred to me that many of her queries related (sometimes tangentially) to turning circles.

However my verbal explanation about different size vehicles needing different size turning spaces was not very good. So when we got home I experimented a little and came up with a fairly simple and visual experiment that demonstrated turning circles.

We used
4 mini sharpies
some gaffer tape
4 toy vehicles of different sizes
2 pieces of blank A4 paper

First we traced around each toy vehicle onto a piece of blank A4 paper, using a different colour sharpie. This gave us an idea of the size of each vehicle. (seen above)

Using the gaffer tape we attached the mini sharpies to the back of each toy vehicle:

Then starting on the same spot we drove each vehicle around a curve on our paper.

Ta-Da! Turning circles – well turning a corner at least.

I did start out with clever ideas of making a street corner and driving the cars around the bend – or even using one of our lego corner base plates. Then I was going to get a compass (pair of compasses) and measure the cars and draw the circles using the compass. But in the end simple was the way to go and did effectively answer Annie’s question. Plus we got to play with gaffer tape, sharpies AND toy cars which was pretty fun.

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Marita Beard
Life, the Universe and Autism
Marita Beard


Life, the Universe and Autism

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