17 Replies Latest reply on Aug 5, 2013 8:47 PM by glen_w

    Stem Snacks – Accurate Measurements

    glen_w

      bunnyatwork_small.jpg

      Our Earth Science students used tissue paper to create hot air balloons. We used the Balloon Exploratorium template to form the panels. Tissue panels were joined using glue sticks. Hair driers were then used in the classroom to verify seams did not leak air. Students put their names and a contact number at the base of the balloon in case it went too far to recover during class.

       

      Heating_Balloon.pngLaunching took place outside in the schoolyard. One of my science teacher friends helped create the heating tube and supplies. I’m not comfortable doing fittings for propane use. All students were excited to observe and collect data on the launches. Data included: time observed rising after being let go, total time spent aloft, and height obtained (this was harder for students to get accurate.)

       

      Flying_Balloon.pngOur math teacher asked to use the data to help students graph. She said authentic data would get them more excited about what they were learning.

       

      I know our students were excited about the project. They could more easily explain how differences in air density allow the balloon to rise. Students were surprised to see the data was significantly different depending on what time of day the class went outside. This activity leads me to wonder...

      • Which math common core standards would this data help your students with?
      • What English Language common core standard could now be met using an activity like this?

       

      I’m also interested in any similar activities you may do with your students.


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        • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
          mcsweej

          I cannot speak directly to common core standards that this activity would meet, but I can certainly can speek to some of the skills in math and language arts that can be used during this activity.

           

          As far as math goes, this definitely could be used for a box and whisker plot (done in 6th and 7th grade) as well as a number of algebraic operations. For instance, you could set up an equation to determine wind speed based on how far the baloon travelled from his launching point. You could also work with PSI and other measurements from building the rig.

           

          From a language arts perspective, you could journal all the steps of the process, write an instructional peice on how to construct the ballon. You could even use the baloon experiment as a jumping off point to write a fictional short story about baloon travel.

           

          I have done similar activities in that they are collaborative with the science teacher on my team, though no where near as cool as this. We have used GPS to map our school campus and set up a Science court using physics laws and civil trial procedures to argue cases.

           

          Great topic!

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          • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
            holmesg

            Glen,

            What an interesting lesson.  I could see ratios and proportional relationships being taught.  Consider: CCSS.Math Content.6.RP.A.1 - Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities.  For example: Students could be asked what is the relationship between time and speed of the balloon rise. 

             

            In language arts the focus could be on CCSS.ELA - Literacy. W.6.1.  Students could be asked to write arguments to support claims with clear reason and relevant evidence on why the hot air balloons in one class stayed in the air longer than others.  They could write short stories or poems based on the hot air balloons.  They could be asked to read and create discussion groups to discuss literature such as the Wizard of Oz.

             

            Other related activities might be

            creating and launching rockets

            creating and racing race cars

             

            Check out this lesson by Darlene Vu at: http://nsm.fullerton.edu/catalyst/docs/Race_Car_By_Darlene_Vu.pdf

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            • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons

              I don't know much about Language Arts, but for math this is tailored for collecting and graphing data. Students would need to decide which data would be best to collect and to graph - especially good for middle school students. Also, I can't remember what the tool is called, but if a teacher had the tools available to measure the angle of altitude at the highest point, students should be able to use simple trig to calculate the altitude of the balloon. I think middle school students would be intrigued by the use of "higher math". I have also heard of this technique being used with rockets.

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                • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
                  glen_w

                  I'm guessing you mean a tool like the Quest SKYSCOPE INCLINOMETER.

                  http://site.ehobbies.com/googleimages/qus7812.jpg

                   

                  I had not thought about using such a rocket altitude device with the hot air balloons. What a great suggestion! I also appreciate the idea of "challenging" the middle school student with "higher level math." I recently used that with one young man who ended up learning some trigonometry on his own. It was interesting to see how he solved the problem and logically developed an understanding of higher math.

                • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
                  erroth

                  Glen,

                   

                  Did you attach any weights (cargo, "passengers") to the balloons to see how much they could lift?

                  Also, don't know if you could have the students determine the density of the balloon filled with room temp air vs hot air.

                   

                  We do film canister rockets and tie that into chemistry and force -- how much weight can the "exploding" canister lift and how high can it lift the weight.

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                    • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
                      glen_w

                      Eric,

                       

                      Our work this year did not involve any cargo. I like that option for future years. You have me thinking ... "how can students determine the density of room temperature air vs. hot air..." I hope we have Engage teachers with ideas on how to do this. It sounds like a great math addition to the lesson.

                       

                      Can you share more about the film canister rockets? I'm interested in the lift and height you include in the activity.

                        • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
                          erroth

                          Glen,

                           

                          We use the translucent white film canisters with lids that don't have an overhanging lip like the black canisters with the black or gray tops. (It's hard to find film canisters nowadays.)

                           

                          Students are familiar with the baking soda/vinegar rx, but they don't know the chemistry behind it. We go behind the scenes to see how CO2 is generated and can blast the canister like a rocket. After the kids play around with the reaction, we talk about laws of motion, go into the chemistry, and then measure the force by placing gram weights on the canister with a ruler behind. We videotape to see how high the canister/weights are lifted. Also, we measure how far across the room we can shoot the lid and how far the body and lid will fly apart from each other (and from the starting point) when placed on its side. In addition, we experiment with ways to slow down/speed up the rx. Steve Spanger has a fun video where he blasts a bunch of canisters on the Ellen show:

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                      • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons

                        This would be great for graphing, but I am thinking with all the differences in the data would be great for commom core. Lead the students to interpret the data and what caused the changes. I think it would be great fun to put a protected cam corder or camera of some kind on the balloon. Great way for students to see a birds eye view.

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                        • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons

                          For 6th grade math:

                          • CCSS.Math.Content.6.SP.B.5a Reporting the number of observations.
                          • CCSS.Math.Content.6.SP.B.5b Describing the nature of the attribute under investigation, including how it was measured and its units of measurement.
                          • CCSS.Math.Content.6.SP.B.5c Giving quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) and variability (interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation), as well as describing any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered.

                          6th grade Comm. Arts:

                          • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
                          • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.2a Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
                          • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
                          • You could do a narrative. Be a reporter for a local station. Video tape your interview and the launching of the balloon. Lots of skills could be covered doing this, including intel.

                          For 5th grade math:

                          • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
                          • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.
                            • Re: STEM Snacks – Hot air balloons
                              glen_w

                              Sherri,

                               

                              Thanks for all the links to Common Core for this activity. I'm sure many teachers will want to make ELA and math more interesting because of your research! The concept of using data effectively is more important than I think many consider. My experience with those who do not teach has been that the majority consider math to be strictly a memorize facts and practice problems subject. Your links show how deeply one can go with this content for both  math and ELA.