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Flying into physics

An exhilarating science project that uses giant levers, pulleys and harnesses to launch a love of learning!

Published: 18 May 2022

With a grant from The Ogden Trust, Scarabeus Aerial Theatre is visiting London primary schools to explore the physics of forces and engage pupils in a love of learning. Over the next few months, they will be working with more than 500 Year 5 pupils at schools in the Capital.

Highly skilled circus professionals have been working in collaboration with a freelance science teacher from the Primary Science Teaching Trust to develop and deliver sessions that will provide an exciting introduction to the forces of gravity, friction and air resistance, as well as introducing the multiplication of force using giant levers, pulleys and harnesses that lift people into the air!

children in a school hall are lifted into the air with harnesses and pulley systems as they explore forces

Thirty Year 5 pupils from a school in High Barnet have already been Flying into Physics with Scarabeus. They experienced the forces of gravity, friction and air resistance kinetically on their own bodies by flying on ropes attached to climbing harnesses. They also learned about simple machines and mechanical advantage using pulley systems to lift each other off the ground to a height of 8 feet! The children did partner exercises exploring the forces by working with each other’s weight and balance, and attempting to pull each other up from the floor.

a group of children are pictured in a school hall jumping into the air

“The programme was hugely successful,” enthuses Nikki Rummer from Scarabeus. “The children realised that science can be both fun and practical. They learned about teamwork and experimenting and predicting an outcome of an experiment by making observations as to how forces were at play.”

The week finished with an assembly where the children were able to explain and show their peers what they had learned. The big wow moment came when the children lifted their class teacher up to the ceiling in a pulley system to the great excitement of the whole school!

three adults in black outfits use white arrows to demonstrate forces with a pulley

Demonstrating forces.

Scarabeus Aerial Theatre works with often hard-to-reach communities to raise aspirations and increase their curiosity for learning. They collaborate closely with over 27 schools, CAMHS, Bright Start and charity partners to receive referrals into our artistic programmes and to deliver educational projects in primary and secondary schools. They work with over 700 disadvantaged children, young people and parents from families with complex needs every year. 82% of our participants over the last two years were from low-income households and 77% were ethnically diverse.

Visit the Scarabeus website to find out more about their work.

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