Thursday, November 16, 2017

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No-Stress Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Science Experiment

It's a "Turkey" Feathers Thanksgiving STEM Challenge!

Thanksgiving is next week but (I don't know if I should admit this...) I've already started decorating for Christmas! I still have some scarecrows and pumpkins out, but I love the Christmas season soooo much! This morning, however, my girls informed me that we need to do more Thanksgiving activities and science projects. After all, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas! I had to start thinking up new science experiments for the season.

Luckily, I had these awesome feathers from Craft Project Ideas, and we've had chemistry on the brain, so I put this Thanksgiving STEM challenge together in about 45 seconds!

Simple Supplies: 

* "turkey" (craft) feathers
* a bowl of water

If you don't have the feathers on hand, paperclips or pompoms also work, though the effect is most dramatic with the feathers! In fact, you could totally do this with a bird theme in the spring or summer instead of a turkey or Thanksgiving theme in the fall!

I also cut our feathers in half so we could use a normal sized bowl. If you used full-sized feathers, you might want a small pan.  ;)

Easy How To:

Place the bowl of water on a table. Place the feathers next to them. Present this challenge to your kiddos:  How many feathers can you get to float on top of the water at the same time?

Take predictions from all your kiddos. If you have a class or large group, graph them! Our smaller group all agreed on a range: 25-35 feathers.

Then let your kiddos get to work!

One of our kids suggested to spread out the feathers as much as possible.

Our group actually got 76 feathers to float! And they could have fit even more, but that was all we had!

Afterwards, they had to test what would happen if they piled them all up in one spot--it turned out that the pile tipped over before the water's surface tension broke!

When they're done, let them take a picture of their work!

My preschoolers were amazed and impressed. My older kids stuck around for a science discussion.

What's going on?

Water's surface tension is the biggest factor in why so many feathers can float on its surface. Individual molecules of water look like a "Mickey Mouse" head -- the head is an oxygen atom and the ears are hydrogen atoms. The end of the water with the hydrogens is slightly positive and the opposite end is slightly negative.

The positive end of one water molecule forms hydrogen bonds with the negative end of another water molecule. A network of hydrogen bonds across the surface of the water creates a surface tension that is strong enough to support dozens of feathers (and even critters like water skeeters and running basilisk lizards)!

How is this STEM?

This science experiment involves all four subjects included in the STEM acronym: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, making it a perfect science project for all areas of STEM.

SCIENCE: scientific reasoning, predicting, and chemistry
TECHNOLOGY: camera to take a picture
ENGINEERING: deciding how to place, stack, and organize the feathers
MATHEMATICS: counting the feathers, graphing predictions and results

Are you looking for more Thanksgiving activities? I seriously love these Thankful for You Ornaments and the Giant Thankful Tree

And do you love STEM challenges and projects? Then here are a few collections just for you: 20+ STEM Activities & Projects and Christmas Science & STEM Activities!

Disclaimer: Our feathers were provided by CraftProjectIdeas with no obligation or compensation. All opinions and ideas are mine!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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