Gelatin Cubes + High Speed Camera = Physics GOLD!

May 16, 2011 by

A couple of weeks ago I found a very cathartic video of water splashes in slow motion, so it was with great joy that I discovered this video from Modernist Cuisine of gelatin cubes being dropped onto a solid surface at 6200 frames per second.

The first thoughts that came rushing into my brain even before the cube first hit the surface were somewhere along the lines of “how awesome would this be in a physics class”?! At the very simplest, you could use it to demonstrate elastic deformation, and start pondering what might happen to the properties of this simple cube of gelatin if the same demonstration was performed while frozen, room temperature, and warmed up to some point where it was close to melting. Then again, I’m thinking from a purely conceptual standpoint as a person who hasn’t taught physics in 4 years.

I’m curious what other types of questions you could generate from this video clip for use in the classroom, and more importantly, how could you find ways to start to use more video in your classroom to spark conversation or perhaps get students engaged and curious about possibly creating their own demonstrations, documenting the process, and then creating digital learning artifacts for other students to use? As we move into a post lecture-based era of education, and start to rely on students constructing their own understanding through guided exploration (yes, there are many, many teachers not there yet, myself included), what resources would you find most valuable to have at your disposal, and perhaps more importantly, what resources would you like your students to be able to create themselves?

In case you’re curious, Modernist Cuisine has a very small collection of high film speed videos on YouTube dealing with food collision. If you REALLY want a nice collection of high speed film video clips depicting all sorts of awesome physics concepts, you should check out the Time Warp Wednesday playlist from DiscoveryNetworks, as it has over 60 videos. My personal favorite from that collection is the water ballon to face video (shown below).

1 Comment

  1. Dorine

    That jello cube is amazing! It seems to completely loses its shape yet comes back to a cube. I don’t understand the physics, but I know cool when I see it :).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *