Wednesday, June 17, 2015

STEM and the Parachute

Studying air pressure led us to a fun experiment. If you have a higher spot on your playground, you could do it too. For us, there is a second story staircase outside of our gymnasium that, though not as high as I would like, does work for experiments like this one.

When you climb to the top step and drop a metal washer, it falls straight down and lands very quickly. Let your kids see this for themselves Then the experiment begins. Every student needs a washer, a string and a plastic trash bag as well as access to tape. They were to construct their own parachute and see if they could slow the descent of the metal washer.

As you can see from the various pictures, they cut their bags-some into circles and some into squares. Some students opened their bag before they dropped it while others folded it up. They were allowed to re-design their parachutes, try new ways of dropping it and take more than one attempt. When they had all finished their experiment, we went back into the classroom where they wrote about what they did, what they changed and how their results were affected by the changes. When they were completely finished, we had a great class discussion. 

Kids learn so much more when they are allowed to experiment and learn things for themselves. Next year, we will intentionally be doing STEM/STEAM projects in our classroom. This one was just an example of what I like to see my students work in my room.

1 comment:

  1. I did not use this, but if you need direction and want to try this, check out this pdf: