Engineering the Holidays – Thanksgiving

Holidays, especially when there are limited days of school that week, are a perfect time to get in some engineering challenges. This week there is only two days of school, where I can get in a little fun and quick engineering design challenges, holiday style.

Kindergarten is learning about inertia as the students work together to design a turkey for the Great Turkey Race (balloon rockets on a string). One problem we encountered in our race was that our strings kept getting tangled and twisted. We need to find a better system for tying off our string.

First and Second grade students are working on an EDC “Leaf Gliders” where the objective is to design a glider from a paper leaf that can fly the furthest. This is a lesson I found on Teachers Pay Teachers, another one of my favorite sites! Students always love the opportunity to make something fly in my class, so this lesson was a hit!

Third and Fourth grade students are listening to a story read to them Balloons Over Broadway about the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. Their challenge is to work together using pre-blown balloons to create a model of a balloon animal that could float above New York City in the parade.

Balloon animal engineering design challenge

Fifth grade students are learning about pulleys this week. Since simple machines were taken out of the science curriculum for elementary several years ago this is something that our students are not familiar with. They are reading the book How to Lift a Lion which is all about simple machines. Their challenge is to create a working elevator to move an apple 18 inches off of the table top. They are using ring stands as their base to attach the pulley and build their elevators using string, straw pieces, and craft sticks with tape. The lesson I had seen used the mini pumpkins, but the pumpkin patches and grocery stores are out of those now that we are in November. The apples are a bit wobbly and harder to get to stay on the platforms they are building for the elevators.