Have you tried using the scientific method with a STEM Challenge? If you have not tried it, I have a treat for you with this amazing STEM Challenge and experiment combo!
The basics of using changing variables and results from the experiment will inform students as they prepare to design the ultimate Hoop Flying Machine!
The great part for you, aside from the fun, will be the easy prep and simple materials used in this challenge!
So, how do you make a hoop flyer?
Super easy. You need a straw and some tape and paper.
I pre-cut the paper in specific widths. I cut the paper because we were following the scientific method and this was one of the variables to control in the experiment part of this challenge.
We had a fabulous data table to record the distances the flyers flew and in a brain-pop moment, I had kids start highlighting the particular variable that was being tested. Whatever was highlighted was the only thing they could change- all other numbers (sizes) had to be the same. This worked so well and really helped us hone in on controlling those variables.
What kinds of variables did we change?
The width of the paper was one thing we tried. Every group started off with one-inch wide paper and we also tried two inches wide. The length of the paper can also be changed.
You can see the wider paper in this photo.
Oh my, this event took the ultimate in teamwork to get it completed. We had students flying the hoop devices, students recording the distances, everyone used calculators to find average distances, and everyone helped build new flyers with new variables being changed.
How did we measure our flights?
We almost always use our floor tiles to measure distances. We count the tiles and multiply by 12 and add the extra distance to that total. It’s a very quick way to measure.
You can see the data table we filled out in this photo.
So, did we design anything?
Absolutely! Kids designed the experiment! After completing the first test each group was free to move forward by testing the variables they wanted to test. After all the tests were finished then we compared all the data and determined which variable produced the best flights. Students used that data to design the ultimate hoop flyer. These were tested and then demonstrated!
Full disclosure here>> Working with elementary students and the scientific method is challenging. For example: I talk to them a lot about the meaning of variable and how important it is to keep all variables the same except the one being tested. This includes having the same person throw the hoop flyer each time. They really want to take turns, but that means testing more than one variable. It takes a lot of monitoring on my part to make sure they are staying on track.
If you are interested in more Experiment and Design challenges take a look at these posts:
Click on any of the images to see more details about the Hoop Flyer Challenge!