Using Harlem Shake to Teach Physics

Feb 19, 2013 by

I’m not going to pretend that I remember enough about my high school physics to speak intelligently about the difference between  centrifugal and centripetal forces, but I do know a good piece of teachable media when I see it. When you introduce a brick to a front-loading washing machine spinning at several hundred RPMs, you get something both destructive and magical.

If your mind works in similar ways to my own, you most likely giggled a bit, guffawed a lot, and then started thinking about what a great visual piece this is for students! They get to see a little destruction (popularized by shows like Mythbusters), laugh at the absurdity of it, and then have this wonderfully discrepant moment of a washing machine thrashing about on the ground because someone tossed a single brick into the rotating drum.

I can’t even begin to fathom the great leading questions that students could generate from watching this in a physics class while preparing to talk about forces and motion….in fact, if you do use this with your students PLEASE share any and all questions they come up with in the comments below!

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