Pumpkin Party

   A couple of weeks ago, my little baby girl turned one year old. How did that happen so fast? I feel like I was just snuggling her in the hospital, and all of a sudden I had a birthday party to plan!

Baby girl’s birthday is at the end of October, so I decided a pumpkin theme would be perfect (and easy)! Apparently many others think so too because there were so many ideas online that it was hard to narrow down what I wanted for our party. We don’t have a huge budget for party planning, so my goal is to keep things simple and fun and do as much as I can on my own.

Invitations

One of the first things needed is the invitation. I’m usually all about making cards or creating a digital version by myself. This year, I knew if I wanted anybody to actually get an invitation, I had to buy them! Fortunately, there were so many online options that I just had to pick one! I ordered these from SugarPink Designs on Etsy. They personalized it and I just had to print. I loved how they turned out! My order even came with little personalized toppers for the cupcakes. Super cute!

Decorations

Decorations turned out to be pretty easy as well. I bought a few large pumpkins that I planned to carve with the kids after the party, as well as several small ones to place at tables. My  parents had grown a few in their garden and graciously brought those as well. Pink and orange seemed to jump out as appropriate color for a girl’s pumpkin party. I also included white and green for accents and contrast.

Activities

I like to have at least one activity for the kids to participate in. When my son turned one, he had a ball themed party with a mini ball pit! We decided to include this again since it was a hit with the extra little ones. For the slightly older kids, I included a pumpkin painting table. I bought many small pumpkins and a guest could pick one and choose to paint it and take it home! Even adults participated in this, which was fun to see! For the biggest kids (adults) we used a pumpkin trivia that I found here.  I probably should have checked out the answers before handing it out though, because we found a few incorrect answers! Be careful for those fact-checkers that will get you!

Food

The most important part of hosting a good party (in my opinion) is making sure there is food available! We did a little chili bar with two types of chili – beef chili and Grand Rapids White Bean Chicken Chili and had all the fixins to put on top.

We also served the following:

For dessert, we had a smash cake that I had decorated (I was a little rushed for time with this one, so the icing did not turn out as I had planned. My daughter did not seem to mind though!)

I also made:

Overall, the party was a success. As I was cleaning up afterwards, I thought, “This is truly a lot of work for a one year old that won’t remember anything about it!” But honestly, they party is not just celebrating her life. It is celebrating the family and friends who have helped raise our little girl and will continue to stand by us in the years to come!

Percent Change Race!

 I am always looking for math activities that take minimal prep time yet still are engaging and useful for my students. Recently, my 7th grade math students studied percent change. After a day of learning how to set up these types of problems and do the math, I wanted something more exciting to get students to understand more meaning behind the numbers. Luckily, I stumbled upon this from Hands on Math and instantly knew it would be perfect! Students would “race” themselves to see the percent change difference between running on two feet and running on one foot.

The day I planned to do this activity with my students, it was cold and drizzling on and off outside. I asked my students if they were still interested, and they all said “YES!” So, we ventured out into the chilly, wet world and raced ourselves!

I partnered up the students and gave each pair a stopwatch. The school’s drive through area was the perfect place to race because we already had large

Our racing lane

orange cones set up (we don’t have buses so this is where students get dropped off and picked up).  I simply showed students where our start line and end line were (about 40-50 meters apart) and then had students start racing! One person stood at the finish line and timed their partner. The first runner ran on two feet and recorded the time it took to do so. This would be the “original” time. Then, they went back and tried to run/hop on one foot. This time would be the changed time. After a student was done with both races, the partners switched.

We did not have even numbers in class, so I ended up being partnered with one of the students. I will say, I was pretty quick on the two feet race, but terribly at racing on one foot. I was probably the slowest person! However, the neat thing about this activity is students didn’t get very self conscious, because they were not really racing each other. The only other person that knew their time was their partner. There was a little bit of competition between partners, but overall, students really were competitive against themselves!

After we had all raced, we went inside to calculate the percent of change. We briefly discussed whether we had a percent increase or decrease of time. Every person’s time got slower (took more time) and so we agreed that everyone had a percent increase. Next, students had to compare their percent of change. Some students had times that were not too far from each other, and so their percent of change was lower than others. I am proud to say that my percent increase was the largest of the entire class – I had 189% increase in times! I need to work on my one leg running skills…

All you need for this activity is:

  • Worksheet to record times
  • Stopwatch
  • Something to mark start and finish lines

Instructions:

  1. Mark out a starting line and a finish line
  2. Have on student from each partner pair ready at the finish line. Their partner is at the start.
  3. Students time how long it takes their partners to run the distance on two feet and record the time.
  4. They repeat this, except the runner now must “run” (hop) the same course on one foot.
  5. The runner and the timer switch places and repeat steps 3 and 4
  6. Partners record all times then work together to calculate the percent change between the races.
  7. Compare and discuss the percent of change they find!

Have fun running!

DIY Costume for Teachers

  Looking for a last minute Halloween costume? I’ve got a great one that came to me last minute that is perfect for any teacher.

Every year at our school, we do a “spirit week”.  Students dress according to a different theme everyday. The class that goes all out and has the most participation and “spirit” wins the “Spirit Sword” (which is a little plastic sword with some ribbon on it. For some reason the kids fight like crazy for it!) Anyway, this year some of the themes included Crazy Hair Day, Patriotic Day and Character Day. For Character Day, students (and teachers) were encouraged to dress up like a character from their favorite movie, tv show or book.

My first thought was to dress up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I’ve always wanted to dress up like her, and it is one of my favorite movies. However, finding a big fluffy yellow dress last minute is not an easy thing. I thought about it a little more, and then went to Pinterest.

There were lots of ideas – storybook characters like Grouchy Ladybug, the Rainbow Fish and the Hungry Caterpillar were adorable. All cute, but not for me. There were ideas for being crayons, rock, paper, scissors, or even emojis. And then I saw it: Ms Frizzle! Not only did I grow up watching, The Magic School Bus, I happened to have a stuffed Lizz in my classroom. It was meant to be!

The dress is the most important part of being Ms Frizzle. I happened to have a blue dress that would work perfectly for a costume. I didn’t have a collared shirt to go underneath, so I wore a white, loose-sleeved one that worked well.  So if you want to be Ms. Frizzle, your dress MUST show whatever science subject you are studying! My 6th grade class is studying the planets so obviously I choose to wear Ms. Frizzle’s classic solar system outfit!

I used felt to cut out several stars, some suns, planets and crescent moons. Then I taped them all over my dress, making sure to add little stars to my earrings and planets to the tips of my shoes. I even braided my hair the night before so when I woke up it would have the “frizz” I needed! The finishing touch was

my sidekick Lizz!

Materials I used:

  • Knee length or tea-length dress
  • Tape
  • Felt cut into the shapes you need! The Solar System theme is easy, but you could customize your dress to whatever science subject you are studying! If you need inspiration, check out Monsters and Molecules blog where all “Dresses of the Frizz” are displayed! Amazing!
  • Toy Lizz!

I put this costume together in less than an hour (and that includes the many interruptions from my children!). Even though Magic School Bus is no longer on tv, the kids still knew who I was! Apparently it’s on Netflix… The costume was a big hit! Now if only I had a magic bus that could transport my students to cool places…

 

Solar Ovens

   Even though it is October, we have still had some pretty warm days here in Indiana. Not all of them have been sunny, but I’m still enjoying the warmer temperatures. More play time outside, sandals are still ok, and I can still easily take my class outside to do another science activity!

My 7th grade students were studying heat and energy. Specifically, we studied the ways heat transferred – radiation, conduction and convection. Obviously I wanted to incorporate food, and what better way to teach these concepts than to use ovens – solar ovens!

There are many ways to create a solar oven. I use leftover apple pie boxes from our school fundraiser, but most use pizza boxes or something similar. A few other simple supplies is all you need, besides whatever you plan to cook of course.

Here is a rundown of the science terms and why these boxes work:

Radiation – This is energy that travels as waves. This energy comes from the sun and drives the whole heating process of the oven.

Conduction – The radiant energy heats up the bottom of the box (black paper), and in turn, the black paper heats the air in the box.

Convection – The warm air rises up to the top of the box, pushing cooler air down in the process. The cooler air then gets heated from the bottom of the box, and since the box is closed, this cycle continually keeps the warm air inside.

You can find several youtube videos that explain the science behind solar ovens, as well as how to set them up. I’ve used these two videos in my classroom:

  1. This video by the SciGuys not only explains how to set up an oven, but also explains why they work! It fit perfectly into what I was trying to teach the students about these concepts.
  2. The other video is by Howcast and it shows a step by step tutorial of how to put the solar ovens together. I love showing my students this at the start, then replaying it one step at a time.

Materials:

  • Pizza box (or similar)
  • Tin foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Black paper
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Straw (Optional to prop box open)
  • Food to heat! I use smore fixings – the chocolate melts great in these ovens! The marshmallow doesn’t toast, but it does get soft.

Directions

  1. Pair students up to make the boxes using the directions from the video
  2. Prepare whatever food item you would like them to heat. Even though students share a box, I prepare enough for each student to have their own smore.
  3. Find a spot outside in the sun and have students place their food inside their ovens. Make sure the ovens are allowing the sun to shine inside the boxes!
  4. Wait 15-20 minutes (I usually have a reading activity for students to do while they wait!)
  5. Enjoy the treats! (Napkins are also especially helpful here… smores are ooey, gooey!

Students absolutely love cooking in their solar ovens. Most want to bring the ovens home to see what else they can heat up!

Homemade Applesauce

  I feel like the apple craze hit me a little later than usual this year. Maybe because the weather has been pretty warm and it hasn’t felt like fall. Anyway, this past week the need for apples and apple treats hit hard. This week also happened to be the week our school transforms the gym into an apple pie factory. We make over 7,000 pies in 2 days and then sell them to raise money for the school. It’s our biggest and best smelling fundraiser, with the sweet smell of apples, cinnamon and sugar filling the halls.

Enter homemade applesauce. I cook it in the Crockpot, and it makes the whole house smell like heaven.

Ingredients:

  • 10 apples  (I typically use a variety of kinds including Empire, Gala, McIntosh, and Fuji)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ sugar  (If you like sweet applesauce, or are using tart apples, you can add up to a cup)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Other optional ingredients include: honey, nutmeg, allspice

Directions:

  1. Core and peel the apples. The nice thing about this sauce is that you don’t have to peel everything perfectly. If a little bit of the peel is left on an apple here and there, it’s fine!
  2. Chop the apples into smaller pieces and dump them into the crockpot.
  3. Add the water, sugar, and any other ingredients to taste.
  4. Cook on low for about 4 hours, stirring and mashing the apples occasionally.
  5. I like my sauce on the chunky side, so once the apples are soft, I mash as much as I can with a wooden spoon, but leave some chunks. If you like your applesauce smoother, you can use a blender to puree it further.

This applesauce is awesome warm, however it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, or put into the freezer and last a few months. Mine never lasts that long, especially now that my son has a new found love 

of this special He wanted to eat the entire batch!

So grab some apples, let the sweet apple aromas fill your kitchen and enjoy!

Moon Phase Madness

There was something in the air this past week. Did you feel it? Kids were super restless and even naughty. Teachers were on edge. Nothing seemed to go as planned. Did you also know it was a full moon at the end of last week? Yup. Does that explain things?

Why is it that kids seem to get a little crazy when the full moon appears? Scientists (like the ones here from Weather.com) say that this is a myth. Although studies have shown kids do get less sleep during a full moon, this is only about 1% of their sleep and should not account for much difference in behavior. Yet, ask any classroom teacher, and I think they would disagree…right? I hope this isn’t just me. I know I would gladly invite those scientists to my classroom during a full moon week and allow them to teach for “research” purposes. Good luck.

Last week my class also studied the moon phases. How perfect. So in light of the Moon, here are some great resources to teach with!

My favorite: The Moon Song (Rock Version)

This youtube video is my all time favorite. The cheesy music, the monotone rap/singing, the repetitive words… all perfect reasons to show a class of middle school students. Though there are many songs that describe the moon phases, this one tops them all. It sticks in their heads forever, which is exactly the purpose when you want them to memorize the moon phases! Thank you songsofhigherlearning!

Oreo Phases

I have never done this in my own classroom, but I know of other teachers who successfully taught the phases with Oreos at my school. It seems like a great idea! “Kids, lick off the frosting to the correct Moon phases!” You may get a few that “accidentally” mess up, but students would be engaged for sure. Sciencebob.com has an explanation here with a pdf to help.

oreo_moon_phases

Birthday Moon Phases

This is an activity that I have done in my classroom. It’s from Mysciencesite.com. Students figure out what phase the moon will be in on their next birthday, plus the days before and after. Listed are a few websites that can direct students on how to figure this out. It’s a good way to help practice the different phases as well.

For the Toddlers

This last one is for the littles. I found this idea at A Dab of Glue Will Do and love it. My son is obsessed with seeing the Moon and I know he would love to make his own! With just foil and paint, kids can make the Moon to look semi-realistic!

Morse Code Device

Electricity is such a fun topic to cover in my classroom. Although it is not technically part of my standards in 8th grade, I still cover circuits and how they work. My students love developing different types of circuits, trying to get the bulbs to light in different ways. I know electricity is included in other grade level standards, so this could easily be used or adapted for another grade level too. I have actually heard of 3rd graders doing a similar task.

The problem I use for this activity is as follows:

A toy company wants you to design a new product. The company wants a communication device that is similar to a telegraph. The device will use light instead of sound as a signal. The device will use light instead of sound as a signal. Kids will use the device to communicate in Morse code.

I like including device being a toy for kids. This creates a new way of thinking about the device. We discuss what kids would need – something safe, easy to use, and of course, fun! We also discuss why this would light up and not make noise 🙂 I usually need to stress that this will just be a prototype of the electronic part of the toy though, and will not be the final product. Later, as an add on, sometimes I have the students make flyers for their toy and they can model any additional features. For example, one group had “plans” to make their electric circuit a part of a toy car. When kids would use the Morse code device, they would design the headlights of the car to turn on and off. Rather than actually creating the car (since we didn’t have the tools to do so) the students could make their flyer displaying image of their “final product”.

I allowed each group of students to use the following materials in their design:

  • Battery (in a holder if you have it)
  • Light bulb (in holder)
  • Wire
  • Clothespin
  • 2 craft sticks
  • Toothpick
  • Paper clip
  • Rubber band
  • Piece of cardboard (students could cut or alter this in any way
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Morse code chart (mine came from my original curriculum, but you can find a similar printable online, like this one)

The first challenge was for the group to create a functional circuit that could easily be turned on and off. Some groups had t
heir circuits set up so that when you pressed the button, the light would turn off. Although they could write in Morse code, this didn’t really work for the toy. Most parents want the toy OFF when no one is using it.

There are always a few good designs that work really well, and others that we believe would be more difficult for kids to use. This activity really starts up great conversations about working for a client. In this case, the client would be a toy company — you are building it for a child. Therefore, the students had to think about their designs in a way that would work for a kid.   

Testing

After the circuits had been put together, students tested out their Morse Code toys by writing down simple messages in Morse Code. I tried to encourage one or two word messages and students quickly understood why! It took awhile for them to translate their messages to Morse Code! One person from the group then used the device to “light” the message while their partner(s) wrote down the Morse code they were seeing. Then, the partner(s) translated the Morse Code back into English, and compared their answers! Most groups were close in translation, with only a letter or two off, so I consider that a success!

Maybe next year, I will take it to the next level and have students actually include a “toy” component to their electric circuits!

Newton’s Balloon Rocket Cars

What is it about balloons? It doesn’t matter how old the kid is, you bring out a balloon, just the regular kind that you fill with your own CO2 ,  and the is an excitement in the air. My two-year old loves hitting balloons in the air, trying to keep it up as long as possible. The 7th grade students see a pack of balloons on my counter, and immediately are wanting to know if they will get to blow one up!

Good thing this time the answer was yes!

We have been wrapping up our study on Newton’s Laws. I wanted an activity that would require students to use their knowledge of all three laws in their design. A balloon rocket car fit perfectly. I based my design after what I saw here at kidzworld.com, however there are many variations to this activity using other materials!

Goals of the design:

  • Students were to design and create a “rocket car” that used the balloon to thrust the car forward.
  • Students needed to calculate the momentum of their car, and therefore find the velocity.
  • They measured the distance the car went and the time it took to go that distance.

Here are the materials that you need:

  • Styrofoam
  • Cardboard
  • Straight straws
  • Flexible straws
  • Wooden skewers
  • Bottle caps with a hole in them (used as wheels. You can easily make a hole by hammering a nail lightly through the center of the cap. I also had wooden wheels on hand, so I let the students choose which they wanted to use.)
  • Balloons
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Though the basic design of the car was going to be the same, there were several smaller choices students could make that would affect how well the car worked. For example, they could pick either cardboard or styrofoam to be the base of the car. Either wooden wheels or bottle caps could be used for the wheels. The wheels were attached by the skewers and/or straws underneath the base of the car. On top, a bendy straw was attached. At one end, students needed to secure the balloon. The other end was left open so someone from the group could blow the balloon up and be ready to race!

This car went the farthest. The group cut pieces out of the side to eliminate extra mass.

I allowed students three trials. Some had cars that moved fast, but not far. Others moved slow and steady and still others moved at all. If I had one more day to do this activity, I would have allowed them to change one thing about their designs to see if they could make their cars go farther or faster.

After their testing, recording and calculating of velocity and momentum, we discussed how Newton’s laws were involved.

Newton’s 1st Law

An object in motion stays in motion unless an unbalanced force acts upon it. Students understood this through the slowing down of the car from the friction. They also stated that if the car had more mass, that meant there was more inertia which made it harder for the balloon car to start moving.

Newton’s 2nd Law

F=ma. A more massive car would be harder to accelerate with the same force. Students figured out that more massive balloon rockets required much more balloon air power to get going. To increase acceleration, those balloons needed to be blown pretty big!

Newton’s 3rd Law

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The application of this law was fairly obvious to the students. They immediately realized that the force of the air coming out of the balloon from behind would push the balloon rocket forward with an equal amount of force!

The students love comparing their balloon rocket cars and would have loved a race! Maybe next time I can turn this into a Newton’s Laws tournament!

8 Easy Last Minute Dinner Ideas

So far this school year has been a whirlwind. There has been so much going on. I feel like from the time I wake up until the time I lay down again at night, I’m busy with something! Many families are probably in the same position, especially this time of year. Even in the crazy weeks, I like to sit down as a family for dinner. This has been especially important to me as our kids get older. We don’t often eat breakfast or lunch as a family, so the final meal of the day is where we can come together and spend some time. It’s not even about the food. It is about being together. It’s about sharing your day with people that care about you. As we sit down, we pray, talk, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong, it is usually not calm and peaceful at the dinner table with two little ones. However, it’s one of my favorite times of the day because we can be together!

But what do you cook on those crazy nights? Maybe you only have 15 minutes to throw something together. I’ve created a list of 8 last minute dinner ideas that can be put together quickly with little to no prep. My family typically eats at least one or two meals from this list a week. And that’s just fine by me!

1. Tacos

Um… this should be a last minute AND a regular planned dinner. Who doesn’t love taco night? These are so versatile that you can grab anything you have in your pantry, freezer or kitchen to a tortilla, roll it up and you’re done. Make it a taco bar so kids can choose what toppings to put in. Chicken, beef, fish, just veggies… it’s all good. Cheese, lettuce, and salsa with a little dollop of sour cream finishes it off. Put out a bag of tortilla chips and everyone is happy.

2. Quesadillas 

Super similar to taco night, quesadillas are a great anytime meal. My husband is the master quesadilla maker. He has been known to put anything and everything inside. Once, we had leftover Thanksgiving quesadillas, turkey and mashed potatoes included. All you need are some tortillas and cheese. Anything else is a bonus!

3. Grilled Cheese

This is a staple at our house during the week. Often, my husband is gone at least one dinner a week. Rather than cooking a full meal for my two year old and myself, I typically prepare a few grilled cheese sandwiches. Easy and yummy. You can turn a regular grilled cheese into something gourmet by adding a few simple ingredients. Sliced Granny Smith apple with cheddar, adding hummus, or even making it with mozzarella with some pizza sauce! The options are endless. Add some soup (canned or homemade) and it is a delicious meal for a chilly or rainy day.

4. Breakfast for Dinner

I am actually not a huge fan of having breakfast for dinner. I’m not really a huge fan of big breakfasts for breakfast either. But, my family loves it and I know many people love breakfast all day any day. Pancakes, waffles and french toast are classics. There are so many varieties of these that you can do. Add fruit, make it savory, add eggs or sausage to make a complete meal. You can even put your jammies on early and have breakfast for dinner the right way.

5. Salad with Chicken

I try to make a big salad to have with dinner early in the week, that way, it is available for dinners the next few days. However, in a pinch, add more to the salad, throw in some protein like cooked chicken breast (I’ve even thrown in cut up chicken nuggets… don’t judge) and boom! Delicious and healthy! If you have dinner rolls on hand, put them in the oven and have warm, bread ready to go in a few minutes.

6. Pizza

Oh man. Can you ever go wrong with pizza? This is a weekend must. And it doesn’t have to be take out! Our freezer is always stocked with a couple frozen pizzas. I also like to make homemade crusts ahead of time using this recipe from Momsbyheart.  You can freeze these crusts and pull them out whenever you need to whip up a delicious pizza. Sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings you like (and have in the house) make these easy to personalize. If you don’t want to make your own crusts, you can buy pre-made crusts, or use something a little more unconventional. We’ve made the pizzas on tortillas, bagels, English muffins, you could even put it on bread and make pizza grilled cheese!

7. Spaghetti

Always a classic. With meat sauce, without meat sauce, whatever you choose, it is a win. And I’m not talking about making your own sauce from scratch type of spaghetti. Boil the noodles, heat up the sauce from a jar, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and there you go. Use some of the salad you made from the previous night to go with it. Butter some slices of bread (anything you have on hand), sprinkle garlic powder on top and put it in the oven for a few minutes on broil, and you also have toasty garlic bread.

8. Baked Potato Bar

This is another recipe that you can work with what you have in the pantry and freezer. Bake the potatoes (or you can microwave them in a pinch) and set out several possible toppings. Butter and mayo, broccoli and cheese, chives, salsa, sour cream, bacon…. Endless options! Add a side salad if you feel the need for more greens.

Slowest Parachute Design

In 7th grade, we started right away with physics concepts. These are some of my favorite areas of science! I love teaching Newton’s laws, investigating forces and computing the simple math equations that come with! My students however, don’t always seem quite as eager!

While discussing friction one day, I decided a design lab was needed to boost their interest level and understanding. Students knew friction slowed things down, but some were having a little trouble thinking about why friction is also helpful! Someone replied with a comment about parachutes, and instantly I had my idea.

After class, I frantically searched every drawer of my classroom for a little bag of these:

I had collected them at a 4th of July parade this summer, just in case I had a brilliant idea.

With just a quick search online, I found several activities that related to what I was thinking: A Slowest Parachute Contest. Teachengineering.org had this lesson plan already created! It was simple to put together, used simple materials and taught the concepts I needed it to. Winning! Although I did make a new, slightly adapted worksheet, I followed this lesson pretty closely!

This took my class two class periods, although both classes were shortened because of other activities going on that week. You could most likely complete it in about an hour if needed. The first day, students were given the challenge and the supplies.

Supplies included:

  • One army man
  • A Plastic Bag
  • Newspaper
  • Construction Paper
  • Tissues
  • String
  • Tape

Day 1

  1. Students were put into groups of three, and each group had to decide which material they wanted as their parachute.
  2. Next, students cut their material into a circle. I was not specific on the size of the circle on purpose. Part of the lab is to see if the area has an affect on the parachute’s performance. Some students used a compass to help draw their circles, which was a great idea. They also put a small hole in the middle of the circle of their parachutes, after some discussion over whether this was actually a good idea or not (it is…and after discussing, most agreed).
  3. Before attaching the parachute, students needed to calculate the area of their circle. Yay for the math connection! We used the formula r2 . Students needed to be reminded to measure in cm so we all had the same units! At the end, we compared our surface area to the times of the parachute drops.

    Cutting out a circle
  4. Students could then tape or tie their army man to their parachutes using string. It was interesting to see the various ways students did this-some army men ended up falling upside down!

Day 2 – Testing!

At the beginning of our second day, we had about 5 minutes to make last minute adjustments to their parachutes. Then, student groups sent one “dropper” at a time to drop their army man while I timed the drop.

Each group was given three drops. There were a few “do-overs” when the parachutes hit a desk or chair on the way down. The times were then averaged. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of this, since I was using my phone to time the parachutes!

After each group had completed their drops, we had a discussion. It seemed to us that a larger parachute did help, but it was not necessarily the most important thing. Also, it seemed like the plastic bag material worked the best, but newspaper also worked well. I’m sure if we did this again, those results may vary.

Overall, the lab did seem to help students understand friction, especially air resistance. This activity was such an easy one to add last minute. Students were engaged, asking good questions about their designs and most importantly, gaining understanding of friction!