IMG_5800I went through my list of labs and made a list of all the things we used and thought about what a family could do if they were just doing physics on their own and didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  My first thought is that everyone should buy the Optics Discovery kit, its the best $25 I ever spent. I’ve used the materials in that kit over and over and over again.  It also comes with nice instructions for quick experiments.  If you buy this kit you’l have optics well covered.   A Snap Circuits or other electronics kit could be used for electricity, but if you’re kid isn’t that interested in electronics you can make do with a few batteries and flashlight bulbs for some simple circuits or use some apps/websites for virtual circuit labs.   For mechanics you can do a lot with just an iPad and the Video Physics app, along with a ruler/meterstick and a ball, toy car or marble runs.  Here’s a list of equipment that’s useful for a year of physics labs. I left off the more expensive items like the air track and Go Direct sensors that I use with my classes that aren’t necessary.  I also left off some of the equipment for labs that I didn’t feel worked all that well or could be left out.  Items that are bold are things that I feel are required for a minimum physics lab experience.  I probably missed a few things but this list should at least give you an idea about what you need to do the physics labs discussed in my blog.

slotted weightsMechanics:

Pressure/Gases/Phase changes:




Nuclear Physics:

  • M&Ms or pennies for radioactive decay activity
  • Spectroscope analysis kit $26  (this is a very cool kit and has enough chemicals that you can use it many times, like when studying Chemistry, or share with fellow homeschoolers).  You can use a candle for your fire source if you don’t have a burner.   – can be done as part of Seeing Color lab or when talking about atoms.