Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mad Scientists Club: Force and Motion


  • Program Goals 
    • Experiment with the science of force and motion 
    • Encourage kids to problem solve and be creative 
    • Attendance: 35 
Project: Catapults

I made some signs with instructions and pictures from several online sources, one for a super easy catapult and one for a more difficult model. I laminated these and put them out on the tables for people to refer to. I also put a warning sign that only adults could use the hot glue gun!

Supplies
  • Popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, rubber bands 
  • Bottle caps, cotton balls, small pompoms 
  • Glue dots, hot glue gun, glue, tape, duct tape 

Project: Mini-Marshmallow Shooters
I had a variety of cups and sizes of balloons that kids could experiment with. It really only works well with really hard plastic cups, but we did fine experimenting with other cups and paper tubes. This would also work with pompoms, you don't have to use marshmallows. I got this from Amy Koester.

Supplies 
  • Plastic and paper cups (different sizes)
  • Balloons (different sizes) (you need BIG balloons)
  • mini marshmallows and/or pompoms

Experiment: Racing cars/Marble Run
I was inspired by this program and this program as well as some of the experiments in Motion by Ellen Lawrence to make an experiment where the kids could try different kinds of friction and gravity. I set up some suggestions/rules and the kids did car races.

Supplies
  • Paper towel tubes, some long boxes 
  • Matchbox cars left over from summer reading prizes 
  • Scraps to test friction - felt/fabric, foam, paper, tissue paper, foil 
  • Scissors, packing tape, duct tape 
Experiment: Hot Air/Cold Air

I got this from Read Sing Play. The kids put a balloon over the mouth of an empty bottle. Put in very cold and then very hot water and the balloon inflates.

Supplies
  • Plastic water bottles 
  • Balloons 
  • Pitchers 
  • Hot and cold water 
Experiment: Wind Play

I also got this from Read Sing Play. It's just a fan and straws and you practice blowing things - how far can you blow, which blows faster the fan or the straw, etc.

Supplies
  • Fan (large and small) 
  • Straws 
  • Streamers (ribbon, crepe) 
  • Miscellaneous things to test 
Ideas to try
  • cranes 
  • six simple machines 
  • alka-selzer rockets 
  • pumpkins out of baby socks, water balloon launcher, trebuchet to launch, measure distances 

Evaluation of Previous Programs 
  • 4-14-16: Marble/Racing car run
    • Attendance: 25
    • Notes: Small group was fine for this program. It took a little while for the kids to get into it but then they started having fun. They do more building things than actual racing, but that's ok.
  • 11-5-15 (Paper airplanes and marshmallow shooters)
    • Attendance: 35
    • Notes: Really small group at the beginning, but then more people showed up. I needed more big balloons and some kids wandered off doing other things with the balloons etc. 1 bag of marshmallows was more than enough.
  • 9-24-15 (catapults/racing cars) 
    • Attendance: 48 
    • Notes: I had an assistant at the hot glue gun and another at the race tracks. It worked well. This is really one for older kids, but the race tracks are good for all ages. Note to self - check baskets of supplies before putting them out, as several kids got invested in stapling rubberbands and were not happy to have that taken off the activity list! 
  • 11-6-14 (catapults/racing cars) 
    • Attendance: 30 
    • Connections/Feedback: Several new families that I talked to yesterday came and really enjoyed themselves. 
    • Notes: I had a lot of younger/unattended kids so the catapults didn't work as well, since they really require a little more initiative and effort than the kids were willing to put into it. I didn't have hot glue available - I was sick and tired and couldn't handle it. 
  • 10-16-14 (combined with what floats, what flies) 
    • Attendance: 18 
    • Connections/Feedback: One new family - grandmother who takes care of kids didn't know we had this program every Thursday and will be coming again. The weather suddenly turned gorgeous and our book drop was overflowing, so people were clearly dumping everything off and taking off to sports etc. 
    • Notes: More balloons! I could also use a more sturdy ladder. 
  • 9-12-13 (catapults/racing cars) 
    • Attendance: 50 
    • Notes: Our first Mad Scientists Club! I decided to divide the program into two parts, a project that the kids could make and take home and an experimental/game component that they could do at the library. I realized I couldn't do much with actual talking about science, b/c of the structure of my program, but I can fully utilize the things that are already built in to my after school clubs; creative problem-solving, imagination, initiative, creativity etc. Otherwise known as "I can't control a group of 50 children, ages 2-12, coming and going at random times for an hour and a half so you're on your own, here are the supplies now do something!" I am so happy that this worked out well. Everything was a huge hit, we almost ran out of paper towel tubes but not quite, only one kid got a hot glue burn and it was wonderful.

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