Domino Toppling

Using a Domino Set to Explore Kinetic and Potential Energy

Materials Needed:

  • One set of dominos
  • A flat surface

*Substitutes for dominos*

  • Jenga blocks
  • Toy blocks
  • Rectangular legos
  • Small pieces of cardboard

Making your own domino set is an excellent way to explore the law of physics pertaining to kinetic and potential energy. View the following videos for inspiration when creating your own domino set up!

Video Example #1

Video Example: #2

Video Example #3

Instructions: 

The basic instructions are simple. Using your dominos or substitute materials, construct a geometric layout on a flat surface. After placing dominos or substitute materials in a creative arrangement that interests you, topple them! Feel free to challenge yourself by experimenting with more complex domino tricks like spirals, towers, or walls. Try placing the dominos apart at different lengths, using different amounts of dominos, or toppling them with different amounts of force!

Real World Application:

Creating a domino set to topple is a great way to understand the natural laws that govern our movements which is explained in the subject of physics. When your domino is standing up, it has potential energy. Potential energy is “ the stored energy an object has because of its position or state” (Potential Energy, 2020).  In real life, potential energy is measured in joules and changes based on the position of the object. When you push the domino and it falls, the potential energy turns to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. In real life, kinetic energy can be transferred in collisions, stored, or converted into other forms of energy like electrical energy. Friction is also created by the movement of the dominos falling against each other and slipping on the flat surface. This results in the conversion of some energy into heat and sound. For more information on this subject, read here: https://www.ducksters.com/science/physics/potential_energy.php

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