Thursday, December 6, 2018

Rescue the Penguins Helicopter Lift STEM Challenge

It was cold and snowy last weekend and I wanted to come up with a way to keep Xander busy without screens.  We hadn't done a STEM/STEAM challenge in a while, so it was the perfect opportunity.

The scenario:
I told him that his job was to make a "helicopter lift" to carry the stranded penguins back home.  The helicopter was a piece of string tied to a stool and a large paper clip I'd bent open.  He'd have to build a lift or boat that he could swing the paper clip to, pick up and then set down on the other side of the water (we set out paper to symbolize the water, for a tougher challenge, you could spread them out and go from one sheet of paper to the other).  Whatever he built had to be strong enough to carry all the penguins (we used about 10 from his Toobs).
The Materials:
I gave him pipe cleaners, aluminum foil and tape.  We used the paper for the water and the string and a large paper clip for the helicopter.
Building his lift. 
Xander had my husband and me each make a lift also.  We ended up with some VERY different designs. 
Using the string and paper clip to hook his lift ended up being a lot tougher than he expected. 
The first attempt crashed in the water. 

He made it, but only with one.  He ended up having to re-design his lift to make it accommodate all the penguins.
Trying out a different design.
This is a challenge that could easily be done with other toys.  We thought about rescuing Santa or Saving the Polar Bears (which would be a good environmental science tie in activity), but Xander wanted penguins.

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