In our homeschool we love science. Each year I spread out our science topics throughout the year and spend time studying different things like animals and habitats, rocks and minerals, plants, matter, etc. My boys love it. They are alway excited when we have a science activity on our daily schedule. They are learning what it means to be a scientist, how to research, do experiments, and observe our world. Now, since science projects and experiments have become a regular part of our homeschool, my kids have decided they are scientists. It is awesome to see my kids excited about learning! We had so much fun doing our latest science activity that I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone!
Starting our Forces and Motion Activity
For the last few weeks we have been exploring Forces and Motion. This is a favorite topic of my kids. My boys love to build, “invent,” and see how things work. They have learned about gravity, how things move, and using simple machines. This week with our co-op group we did a group lesson on using air as a force to make things move. We made straw rockets, balloon rockets and had a BLAST, literally!
This group was a mix of kids ages 5-7 (K-2nd grade). I started our lesson with a quick review about what motion/movement was and what a force was. We talked about non-living things cannot move by itself and how everything needs a force to cause it to move. The kids had fun trying to come up with things that could move by themselves (robots, cars, spaceships, etc.), but in the end we realized all those things had something, a force, that caused it to move. We did a short demonstration of this by laying a crayon on the the table and asking them if it could move by itself. Then we talked about what forces could make it move. The kids took turns playing with the crayon, rolling it across the table and picking it up. Then we talked about how we could move it without using our hands
That’s what led us into talking about air! We then took turns seeing who could blow the crayon the farthest across the table. Who knew something so small would have turned into so much fun for this little group? After a few minutes of this, it was time to move on to the experiment. I told them that we were going to be scientists today and explore how we could use air as a force to move some other things. I had gathered up what we needed earlier so we were ready to go!
It’s Rocket Balloon Time!
Next I had the kids help me set up our balloon rockets experiment. We spread out chairs about 15 feet apart. Then I got out a ball of string and taped the end to one chair, and walked the string to the other chair. After threading the straw onto the string I cut the string pulled it tight and taped it down to the other chair. Lastly, we taped a paper rocket to the straw. Now we were almost ready for takeoff.
I then began blowing up a balloon. After I had filled the balloon with air I asked them what would happen if I just let the balloon go. We talked about how the balloon would fly everywhere. (and we demonstrated it a few times, of course with a lot of laughter from the kids) Then we talked about why the balloon flew everywhere and how the air was being released from the balloon. We learned how this acted as a force to cause the balloon to move! Then I told them we were going to use this same trick to make our rocket take off across the string. We taped our balloon to the bottom of our rocket and the kids got ready and counted down to Blast off!!
I definitely had an excited little group of kids when our rocket flew across the string! Of course the first thing I heard was “Let’s do it again!” So we did! We tried it with small balloons, and big balloons. We let our rocket blast off over and over again. Each of kids kids took turns being the one to let go of the balloon. Also, each time we would predict if the balloon would go all the way across the string based on how much air we had in the balloon.
Some quick Followup
After many, many successful balloon rocket launches we sat back down to discuss what we found out. I made us a quick activity where the kids had to fill in the blank with the correct word. It got us calmed down, and I was able to make sure that the kids understood that air could be used as a force and the more air the greater the force. In just a few short minutes our group got a little reading and writing in to go along with our science. Then I had assessed that they understood what we were learning!
I always like for my kids in our co-op to take something home with them each time we meet. So before we went home I did one more activity.
I gave each of the kids a copy of a template I made with 2 rockets to color. It only took a few minutes for the kids to color them and then cut them out. We then glued the the 2 rockets together with a coffee stirrer in the middle. I gave each of the kids a straw and had them stick the coffee stirrer in the straw. Then they blew as hard as they could through the straw to make their rockets take off! They took turns launching their rockets then we did a quick competition to see who could make their rocket go the farthest. It was the perfect end to our science lesson!
We had a lot of fun doing this lesson! It worked perfectly for my small co-op group, but it could easily be used for a larger class or just at home with your own kids. If you would like to try this lesson I made a pdf file with step by step instructions and templates for each part of the lesson!
Click on this link to go to my Teachers pay Teachers store to download the file for free!
Forces and Motion: Using Air as a force Lesson and Activity
I hope you enjoy this activity!! Feel free to comment below to let me know how it goes with your family!