Enhancing the lives of our community members by providing access to information.
SPARK is here online, every Friday to provide you simple At-Home STEM challenges during the time of COVID-19. Please check back regularly to see what you can do in order to provide your family educational learning with a bit of FUN!
Can you build a parachute?
A parachute is a device that uses air resistance -or drag- to slow the motion of a falling object. The greater the drag force your parachute can create, the more it will slow down your object — and the better your parachute will work!
Grab your favorite action figure, toy or trinket and see if you can create a parachute to safely drop it from a high point in your house or yard.
What do you need to BUILD your parachute? Hmmmm…
First of all, your passenger is going to need somewhere to safely sit or attach themselves to the parachute. Better if it’s easy to get in and out! (Think… empty yogurt or fruit cups, egg carton cups, small cardboard containers…)
Then you’ll need the actual parachute piece. What will work best to create the most amount of drag force? Hint: parachutes work best with a low mass to surface area ratio.That means you want something with a whole lot of surface that doesn’t weight very much. (Think… grocery bag, coffee filter, the plastic covering around a toilet paper roll…) Experiment with the SHAPE of your parachute. Does it work better to leave the item as is or cut it like a circle? Try some different ways!
Finally, you’ll need some string or yarn and some way to attach it to your parachute material and your passenger spot. Again – experiment! How many strings should you use to make your parachute the most stable?
When you do your drop — experiment with different ways to “load” the parachute. We got the best results folding it first!
Post your parachute designs and tell us how they worked! Here’s ours!
With all this staying at home, maybe you have been doing a lot of reading or watching shows. Can you use Legos to build a scene, machine or character from your favorite book or show? Use your building blocks to bring your favorite story to life! Maybe your idea could be the next big LEGO play set. Post your creations in the comments! Here’s an example, from “Where the Wild Things Are”
Today’s activity is a demonstration of SOLAR ENERGY – energy from the .
When you place the two bottles in the sunlight, the dark colored bottle will absorb sunlight faster than the light colored bottle. This will make the air inside the bottle heat up, causing the air molecules to move around and take up MORE SPACE – which makes the balloon start to inflate!
Try it for yourself! You can also experience this effect with your own body. Try spending five minutes in the sun with a white t-shirt on or a black one. Which one makes you feel the heat most?
Here’s a fun STEM exploration for those leftover plastic Easter eggs! Build a simple rocket out of a toilet paper tube and other materials you can find around the house. The Easter egg acts as your launching device. Add one tab of Alka-Seltzer and a small amount of water to the egg, quickly close it, place the rocket on top and wait for it to blow!
This is an opportunity to EXPERIMENT with different rocket designs, launch angles and techniques as well as the specific egg you use. Use your Alka-Seltzer wisely! If you only have a few tabs, plan and test before you launch. See how your rocket flies just from throwing it in the air. Test your eggs to see which pops open the easiest. Maybe build a platform to hold your launching egg? Try it out and let us know your results!
Give your favorite toy the thrill of a lifetime! Can you successfully build a bungee cord that allows your bungee jumper to get as close as possible to the ground — without actually touching?
YOU WILL NEED:
*Barbie doll, action figure or plastic animal w/ legs
*Rubber bands or hair elastics
*(Optional)Small bowl filled w/ water
Wrap your first rubber band around Barbie’s feet using a slip knot (see picture). Hint: don’t put the doll THROUGH the rubber band; rather – wind both sides of the rubber band around Barbie’s ankles several times and then pull the free end of the rubber band through the opposite end to create your slip knot. There’s more than one right way to do this though!
Once you have your first connection, attach a second rubber band to the free end of the first one, using another slip knot. Keep adding rubber bands until you have a bungee cord long enough (you think!) to drop Barbie ALMOST to the ground without hitting it.
Set up your drop area:
This can be as simple as standing on a chair or you can go all out and bungee Barbie off a balcony, stairway or tree branch (adult supervision required!) Use the measuring tape to figure out how far off the ground you are and drop from the same height every time. For extra fun, place a small bowl of water on the ground beneath your jumper. Make it your goal to just dip Barbie’s hair in the water at the bottom of her jump.
If your jumper falls too far (ouch!) or doesn’t drop low enough (boring…), make adjustments to your bungee cord by adding or removing rubber bands or using bands with a different amount of elasticity. For more variation use pipe cleaners or other materials and see if you can design a bungee harness to go around your jumper’s waist (so they don’t have to fall head first).