Blow Tubes - An Easy Way to Hook Your Kids on STEM

Once upon a time... I was a classroom teacher. Third grade!

Then one summer I made the switch to be a specialist- the STEM Lab teacher.

Our students had never had STEM. So, I knew I was going to have to open the first few classes with a sure "hook" to get them interested and excited. With my fourth graders, we tried Paper Airplanes and that was spectacular. With 5th grade, we tried a rescue device that was really fun.

And, with third graders, I tried Blow Tubes.

Yep, you read that right.
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!




Now, before you think I was totally crazy, let me explain.

It's all about Newton's Laws of Motion!

The whole idea behind this blow tube task was one of Newton's Laws. The second one to be exact.

It seems that an object will not move unless forces being applied to the object become unbalanced. So, the marshmallow or pom-pom in the blow tube will not move until a force acts on it and overcomes the force of friction. Blowing hard will do that.
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!


STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!

Above are some students trying their tubes with pom-poms. Notice that the tube is covered with plastic. That was my solution to keeping the tubes free from germs. The plastic is wrapped around the end of the tube and held in place with a rubber band. I made a hole in the center of the stretched plastic and we replaced the plastic wrap whenever it stretched too much or just need to be fresh.

Back to Newton...

Okay, so remember that unbalanced state the object and forces might have. Well, Newton also said, that the greater the length of time the unbalanced forces act upon an object the farther the object will move.

Got it?

Basically, the longer the tube the longer you can blow the pom-pom. Therefore, it will travel farther. (Yes, that is very simplified language, but remember, I tried this challenge with third graders. At the beginning of the year...)
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!

Above you see us measuring the distance the pom-pom traveled. This introduced even more "variables".

Which is another thing this STEM activity does! We talked a lot about the Scientific Method and controlling variables. In fact, that is when I created my first poster set- for the Scientific Method!

Measuring...

I have learned to measure distances with kids in the easiest way possible. We use our floor tiles! Each tile is 12 inches. We just count the tiles and measure the little bit extra the pom-pom traveled. Then we add those numbers. Students record their data and then we learn to average.
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!


Notice the data table in the above photo. Students tested two different tube lengths and we also moved the pom-pom in the tube. We either blew it close to our mouth or far away.

Also, notice that data. In the second trials, the team recorded distances of 31 inches and then 120 inches! Wow! We needed to stop and talk about what happened and what a scientist would do with such a variance in the data.
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!


I love all those photos of kid feet!

Yes, we used calculators. Have I mentioned these were third graders?

Materials!

This one was so easy to set up. We just needed tubes and a projectile. The tubes I had were industrial paper towel tubes. The cardboard is thicker and unbendable.

I tried marshmallows with this challenge and they worked fine, but they get squishy and dirty very quickly. When they start getting sticky they won't move in the tube.

So, the next time we tried this I used large pom-poms and they worked great!
STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!



This challenge was a definite hook for my third graders. They loved the blowing and measuring. I loved all the skills we covered and the busy-ness of this challenge. Kids were in constant motion. I also love data tables....

I mentioned several activities in this post so if you want to read more, click on the titles below:

And, if you need a sure way to grab your kids' attention, a blow tube will do it!


STEM Challenge featuring Newton's Second Law of Motion and Blow Tubes! Students experiment and keep data tables which results in a design challenge Great fun and full of learning!



2 comments

  1. So I assume the kids poked holes in the plastic wrap?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes:) The plastic kept their mouths from touching the tubes, but a hole was made to allow for blowing.

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