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Breaking Down Science Study Guide

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Breaking Down Science Study Guide

  1. 1. IntroductionBreaking Down Science makes a comparison between the methods ofbreakdancers and scientists. It highlights the importance of inquisitive-ness and curiosity in both of these endeavors. The show utilizes both avariety of breakdancing moves and captivating science demonstrationsto excite students about science.The Scientific ProcessThe Scientific Process involves identifying a problem, forming a hypoth-esis, doing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, forming a conclu-sion and sharing your work with other scientists.Breakdancers do something very similar to this when they are trying tocreate a new move. They identify the type of move they would like towork on, for example, a variation of the windmill. Perhaps they hypoth-esize that they could do the windmill with no hands. They then beginto experiment with how this might be done. They practice the windmillover and over, each time trying to figure out how they can achieve theirgoal. They learn from their experiments and they change their techniqueuntil they can repeat the new move over and over. Then they give it aname and finally, they show it to their friends.
  2. 2. Experiments with FrictionOne of the principles that is going to be discussed is friction. Friction isthe resistance that occurs when one surface rubs against another. Break-dancers need to reduce friction in order to accomplish some of theirmoves, such as the backspin or the windmill. They often bring a smoothsurface to perform on such as linoleum or cardboard. Everyone can expe-rience friction by doing a simple experiment. Push your hands togetherand rub them back and forth. Your hands will start to get hot. That is be-cause friction causes heat. Sometimes you need friction. If there wasno friction, you would not be able to stop your bicycle or walk withoutfalling down.
  3. 3. Learn how to do the BackspinIt can be fun to learn a breakdancing move and you can start with a basicmove called the backspin.Start by sitting on the floor with one leg bent in front of you and one be-hind.Kick the leg that is behind you out to the side with a lot of force. As youkick your leg, lie down onto your back and pull both your arms and yourlegs in tightly, hugging them to your chest.The force of your kick will start you spinning. When you lie down and pullyour arms and legs in, you will spin faster. You will feel a force trying topull you over to one side; resist this by pressing down into the floor withyour back. Remember, the harder you kick your leg, the faster you willspin! 1 4 2 5 3 6
  4. 4. The Science of the BackspinNow that you know how to do the backspin, we are going to take a lookat the science involved.When you kick your leg, you are using it as a lever to make your bodyspin.A lever is a simple machine. This introduces the principle of Conserva-tion of Angular Momentum.When you pull your arms and legs in, you experience Conservation ofAngular Momentum. That means you speed up. You have probably seenthis when an ice skater pulls in their arms when they are spinning on theice. Experience it for yourself by sitting in a spinning chair with your armsand legs extended.Have someone spin you and then pull your arms and legs in. When youdo this, you will spin faster!
  5. 5. Newtons LawsSir Isaac Newton was a famous scientist who made a lot of important con-tributions to our understanding of the world.He formulated his Universal Law of Gravitation while sitting under an ap-ple tree watching an apple fall to the ground. This law explains that theforce that pulls things down on earth is the same force that causes themoon to rotate around the earth and the planets to rotate around thesun.Newton also discovered three Laws of Motion. These laws describe howthings move. His first law says that ‘a body at rest will stay at rest anda body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outsideforce.’We have all experienced this law of motion. A ball on the ground doesnot move until we kick it. What are the forces that cause it to stop mov-ing? We know that gravity pulls things to the ground and friction slowsthings down, so these are the forces that cause the ball to stop. If wekicked a ball in outer space where there is not much gravity or friction, itwould keep going forever.Another one of Newtons Laws says that every action has an equal andopposite reaction. This can be hard to experience on earth because theforces of friction and gravity make it hard to feel. If you threw a ball inspace, the ball would actually throw you as well. It would move in one di-rection and you would move in the other. In the show we use a hovercraftthat floats on a cushion of air to demonstrate this in front of an audience.You can also feel it by sitting in a chair on wheels, close to a wall; if youpush against the wall, the wall pushes back and your chair moves back-ward.
  6. 6. Air pressureThe hovercraft floats because a blower forces a cushion of air under ituntil there is enough air to support the weight of the hovercraft and theperson riding it. This is called Bernoulli’s Principle. We also make a beachball float in mid-air using the same principle. At home you can make aping-pong ball float by using a hair dryer.
  7. 7. HypothesisWhat is a hypothesis? A hypothesis is an educated guess based on someknowledge or idea that you have. A hypothesis is used in science to an-swer questions that we do not know the answer to yet. A scientist willform a hypothesis based on what is known about a problem and thenwill design experiments to test the hypothesis. If the experiments provea hypothesis to be true, the scientist will share it with other scientistsand they will also test it to confirm that it is true. If the experiments provethe hypothesis to be wrong, it is discarded and the scientist will try tocome up with a new hypothesis.Rotational InertiaThe way things spin has been an important area of study in science. It isalso important for breakdancers because many of their moves requirespinning. Using the spinning top to demonstrate, the heavier top will havemore Rotational Inertia and therefore will spin longer. Rotational Iner-tia is a principle that is not just determined by weight, but the placementof the weight is also a factor. The further the weight is from the center,the more Rotational Inertia a spinning object will have. We demonstratethis by spinning a top that is light and a heavy top that has its weight dis-tributed around the outside of the circle. The lighter top does not spin aslong as the heavy top. This is why breakdancers keep their legs spread aswide as possible in the windmill because it distributes the weight of theirbodies towards the outside of the spin, increasing their Rotational Iner-tia. We also demonstrate this principle with a six foot metal wheel thathas so much Rotational Inertia that a person can actually spin inside itlike a top.
  8. 8. Wave motionMany things move in waves such as water, sound, and light. Soundwavesmove through the air. When someone speaks, the movement of theirmouth causes the air to vibrate. This vibration then moves through the airin the form of a wave to your ear where it causes your eardrum to vibrateallowing you to hear. We demonstrate this by holding the ends of a ropeand flipping it to create a wave. If you flip the rope once, only one wavetravels across it. If you keep moving the rope, waves move continuouslyacross it.You can make small waves by giving the rope little shakes or big ones bymoving your arm in big motions. The size of a wave is called its ampli-tude. Frequency describes how close together the waves can travel.Waves can also travel through your body. Breakdancers have a movecalled the wave, in which a pulse of energy travels from their fingertipsthrough their arm, to their shoulders, down one leg, up the other and outthrough their second arm. See if you can make waves move through yourbody!
  9. 9. BalanceThe last science principle we look at is Center-of-gravity. In order forsomething to balance, its Center-of-Gravity must be supported. Center-of-gravity is the point in an object or a person around which all the partsbalance. Breakdancers do a number of different balances called freezes. Ifyou are observant, you will notice that no matter what shape they are in,they are always supporting their Center-of-Gravity.Try standing against a wall with your heels touching it. Now try to leanforward and touch you toes without falling over. You can not do it! Yourfeet no longer support your Center-of-Gravity as you lean forward, soyou fall over. If you lean forward when you are not against a wall, yourhips move backwards slightly in order to keep your Center-of-Gravityover your feet.
  10. 10. FREEZE!
  11. 11. Breaking Down Science harnesses the fascination andexcitement of breakdancing to hook students on the scientificmethod. This interactive performance uncovers the hidden world ofscience in the twists, spins and flips of the breakdancer and the use offun props like gigantic tops, a hover-craft, and a six-foot Circus Wheel. A Special Thank You To The Volunteers: Keily Ros Sekou Hamer Gideon Parker for more info please contact info@everettri.org or call (401) 831-9479

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