Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fizz, Boom, Read!: The Science of Force

Our second program for Grades 3-6 for the summer was all about forces. There are a lot of cool activities out there related to forces, and I figured that the kids would not be able to resist the fun of balloon rockets and paper airplanes.

I, on the other hand, cannot resist the fun of a Star Wars gif:

Definitely heard this a few times during this program.

After a quick discussion on what a force is we started out by learning about the idea of thrust with balloon rockets. The idea behind these is super simple. The first thing you do is tie a string to a support. Next you blow up a balloon and tape a straw on it. The string goes through the straw. When you let the air out of the balloon it shoots up the string.

I also added an element of friction to this activity by using both yarn and fishing line instead of string. The idea was that the balloons would travel more quickly up the fishing line than the yarn, and this seemed to be the case for most that tried it.

The kids enjoyed doing this, but it was a little more time intensive then I anticipated.

For the majority of the second half of the program we learned about gravity and wind resistance with paper airplanes. I had set out supplies such as construction paper, regular paper and paper airplane directions. During the program I allowed the kids time to create their airplanes and test them for distance/accuracy.

Here are some kids hard at work practicing their accuracy.:

Our last activity was Freeze Tag. This ties into forces because an "An object in motion must stay in motion, and an object at rest must stay at rest, unless acted upon by a force." The tagging was the force that caused the players to rest or move. In case you haven't realized by now, I will use any excuse to let kids run around and burn off energy.

Overall I think this program went well and both groups that participated enjoyed it. I still did learn a few things I would do differently if I did this program again.

Tips and Tricks:
  • The website suggested for paper airplane directions in the SRP manual has designs that were way to complicated for this age group. I would definitely find some more simple design suggestions if I were to do paper airplanes with this age again.
  • Balloon rockets were fun, but definitely require several helpers to string, tape and possibly blow up balloons. The more kids who can launch their rockets at one time the better.
  • For balloon rockets the shorter you cut the straw the easier it is to get the string through it. 
  • You definitely need a relatively big space to fly paper airplanes. Some will fly much farther than anticipated.
As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments about this program. Next week's programming is all about water, so I'd definitely appreciate any suggestions about that topic as well.

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