Saturday, April 4, 2020

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STEM Preschool: Structural Engineering Class Day 2

STEM Preschool Activities are some of our favorites, so I was really excited when we had some friends request a Structural Engineering class for our last session of co-op. The co-op we are doing this year is running in 5-week terms, so the lesson that I am sharing today is the second day (for the second week) of our class. You can use these lessons once a week like we did, or once a day for a STEM Preschool Camp! Our classes are 45-minutes long, so all of these lessons are for 45-minute classes. :)  

Today's theme was all about forces and engineering ways to control them!

We called this project Paper Rockets.

Week 2: Stomp Rockets
Projects: Stomp Rockets
Science Concepts: force (a push or pull), gravity is a force

Lesson Overview:

1- Circle Sharing 

2- Attention Activity: Skateboard Forces

3- Lesson: Force & Gravity

4- Project: Stomp Rockets

Supplies: stomp rocket launcher (read below for instructions), 2-liter bottle, paper, crayons, tape, skateboard

1- In advance, join two 1/2-inch pvc pipes together at a 90 degree angle. Duct tape a 2-liter bottle to one end to create the stomp rocket launcher.
2- Make a paper rocket example (#4 below).

Lesson Details:

1- Circle Sharing: I always take about 5 minutes to let each child share something of their choice from the last week.

2- Attention Activity: Skateboard Forces.
Place a skateboard by the wall, and ask the children what a force is. Remind them that it is a push or pull.  Ask what would happen if one of the children stood on the skateboard, and pushed on the wall. Let each child try it.

3- Lesson: Whenever we put a force in one direction, there is an equal force in the opposite direction. When we pushed on the wall, the wall "pushed back," and since we were standing on wheels, we rolled backward.  Gravity is another FORCE that PULLS us (or a ball, or a toy, or anything) toward something big (like the Earth).  

4- Explain that today we were going to engineer paper rockets, and use a force to fire them outside! Show your children the rocket example, and place it gently on the launcher. Tell them that if you stomped on the 2-liter bottle, the force will push air out the bottle, down the pipes, and onto the rocket. The rocket will shoot off the launcher! Show them by gently tapping on the bottle.

Their job will be to make the rockets. They can decorate them with crayons, and roll them into a rocket. Depending on their age, they may need help with this.

Use the end of the pvc pipe to roll the paper into a rocket. Then tape the roll closed along both the side and the top. It is important that no air can escape through the sides or top of the rocket!


While the kids worked on decorating their rockets, the other teacher and I helped each child tape their rockets closed.

They spent about 20 minutes designing and taping their rockets.

Finally, we took them outside and took turns launching our rockets!

In a perfect world, you would sit down and review the vocabulary (force and gravity), and let each child tell you what they did, learned, or liked best about the project. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for this! We still had a great time building the rockets, and we did a little extra review at the beginning of the next class. ;)  

Be sure to check out the rest of the STEM Preschool: Structural Engineering Class lessons HERE! They are filled with STEM activities for preschoolers, picture books, and other cross-curricular ideas!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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