During the summer, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum education staff visits libraries across Ohio. They do 3-4 programs a day. In June I tagged along with Sydney to Belle Center. She set the stage by talking about the museum, astronauts, and the international space station. Some kids already knew about the mission to Mars. They were excited!
Then Sydney gave the kids a STEM challenge, to build a strong tower.
Strength would be judged by how many marbles a tower could hold before tipping over. Our 14 kids divided into 4 groups. Part of their challenge was to work together. The other part was to use prior knowledge about forces and materials, to build that tower.
Each group was given the same materials: 7 straws, 7 index cards, a pair of scissors, a roll of masking tape, ruler and 20 minutes. All towers had to be at least 11 inches high. After 15 minutes, Sydney asked if the groups needed more time. She told them even NASA engineers ask for extensions. Would you believe they all wanted more time? After 30 minutes, the groups faced the tippy tower challenge. Here are their results.
The groups watched Sydney test their towers. She added marbles till the towers tipped and the marbles spilled out. Then she asked:
1. What worked on your tower?
2. What would you change?
Sydney’s tippy tower record is 70 marbles. The Belle Center record was 68. So close!!!
If you’d like to try The Tippy Tower Challenge at home, here’s how:
1. First decide look at these designs. Is there one you want to try? How could you improve it? Maybe you can combine features.
2. Then get the materials (7 cards, 7 straws, and masking tape) and test your design.
3. Finally, report your results. You can tell your parents. You can email me. I’d love to see your results. Your parents can help you with the words and pictures.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!