Soaring the Highest in the STEM Lab!

We are flying things around the STEM lab like crazy people!
Helicopters- Airplanes- and- Rockets! There is a purpose!

It's All About Helicopters, Airplanes, and Rockets, Oh My!
STEM Challenges: Three fabulous challenges all about flight. Each involves the scientific method, testing, and then analyzing results to build the ultimate helicopter, airplane, or rocket!

For most groups in STEM class this week it was time to analyze data gathered in last week's experiments and then design a flying craft using that data. We followed the Scientific Method and then finished up with an engineering design element! Doesn't that sound fabulous? We love combining the scientific method and then designing based on results. It's also real life, folks!


For Helicopters third grade students learned that medium sized paper with some weight added worked best. They determined this by experimenting with different weights of paper and also by adding things to the helicopter "blades". They decorated and flew their ultimate copters.
STEM: Kids are decorating the final design of their helicopters after testing many versions. Will it fly the best?

STEM Challenge: Kids create paper twirling helicopters and then test them in many sizes and weights of paper and then analyze results!
The helicopters are easy to cut out and fold and the most fun to fly. You just have to stand on a chair or table and let them go!
STEM Challenge: Kids create paper twirling helicopters and then test them in many sizes and weights of paper and then analyze results!
You can see a string in some of the photos. This was my way of "controlling" the experiment. See, I told you we were using the scientific method! One thing we discussed was that dropping the helicopters from different heights would alter our results, so kids had to use the height of that string to make that variable all the same for each experiment. Talk about learning some stuff!
Alright, that was third grade!


For fourth grade they completed airplane distance trials, shared their models, and then started working on the drawings of their ultimate airplanes. We are not quite to that part yet!
This worked in a similar way to the helicopter event. The paper airplanes were launched, distances measured, and then parts of the airplane were modified in some way. Then we launched and measured again. Next step was to take a look at all the models and try to determine which modifications produced the best flights. Most groups are now building the best version of an airplane and wew il launch those next week.
STEM Challenge: Paper airplanes! Kids test many versions by launching and recording flight distances. Planes are modified many times and then all the data is analyzed. Finally, the best version of a plane is produced! Will it fly the longest distance?
What do you think will happen?
Okay, that was fourth graders!


For fifth grade we analyzed rocket flights and determined that small amounts of water added to the "fuel" worked better than lots of water. They set about next to design the ultimate rocket with decorations, fins, and nose cones. This last design part happened after we had tested these rockets outside for two class sessions. We were using rocket fuel- alka seltzer tablets- in differing quantities and with different amounts of water to try to find the magic recipe for the best rocket launch.
STEM Challenge: Time for rockets! Using plastic canisters, effervescing tablets, and water, students test many versions of the rocket. Using the data gathered the next step is to design the best looking and highest flying rocket!
Each team now has an amount of the effervescing tablet and water that will make their rockets shoot the highest. They are adding decorations to make their rocket bodies look like real rockets.
STEM Challenge: Time for rockets! Using plastic canisters, effervescing tablets, and water, students test many versions of the rocket. Using the data gathered the next step is to design the best looking and highest flying rocket!
Their final rockets are really cute, but we are learning that adding weight with those supplies will become a factor in the flights.

These three flight STEM challenges are just spectacular. They each involve experimenting, controlling variables, modifying, more testing, analyzing the results, and then designing! Fabulous stuff!

If you'd like to see more about these fantastic flying machines you can click right here: 


Five for Friday! Flight Preview!

Hey Friends!
Can you tell school has begun?
It is so hard to keep everything going at this time of the year.

Some quick notes about my week because it's time for 

First thing I tried with ALL fifteen of my classes was a Team Building activity. I made the string contraption you see in this photo:

This center is a binder ring with about 15 strings fed through it. Each student holds one or two of the strings and the task is to lift the entire circle off the floor to about 3 feet high and then lower it -WITHOUT tilting the middle circle. After the class does this successfully I add something to the ring. I started with a tennis ball and then just got progressively harder and wobblier with the items. The photo shows a mini Pooh Bear being lifted.

Here's the ULTIMATE test that I placed in the center. 

Why, yes, that is a large bowl with a cup on top of it and a whiffle ball on top of the cup.
Yes, I had classes that could raise and lower this!

Y'all if you have never tried this you need to.
I wish I could show the photos with the kids' faces. They are concentrating SO hard! 

Are you ready for this??
I have three grade levels in the STEM Lab. Each is beginning the year with something to do with aerodynamics.
FIFTH grade is
This is so amazingly wonderful. They are testing variables to design the ultimate canister rocket. We were able to do some preliminary exploration this week. Next week we will test variables!

This is a group outside pouring water into their canister, dropping in the effervescing tablet (I LOVE the word effervescing!), snapping on the cap, and then placing the rocket on the ground.
Do you know how high these fly?

Okay, fourth grade! 
This grade level is testing variables with paper airplanes. I used this activity last year with fourth graders and this year's group came in the lab door asking when they would get to fly airplanes. It must have been a fun challenge! Here they are folding and flying:

Finally Third Grade!
This group is testing variables with helicopters.
I tried to get a picture of one in action but they spin so fast every shot was blurry.
They are loving these!

Next week every class will test specific variables and compile a large data table. The ultimate goal is to use the data and design a rocket, airplane, or helicopter that will fly the best.
We shall see.......

UPDATE: For more about the flights of each type of flying device check this post:
Five for Friday Oh My It's All About Flight!

I was explaining to a group of third graders that I have a terrible problem with remembering the names of kids and that I would probably not know all their names until about April. 

One little sweet guy said, "You know they make medicine that will help with that!"
When I asked what the medicine was he said, "I'm going to write it down for you cause I know you won't remember it!"

He handed me a little piece of paper a few minutes later.

The magic memory medicine is:


Have a great weekend!
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