Hands-on activities are great to keep students on task and engaged when their minds (and ours) have a tendency to drift towards thoughts of summer break. I like to use the end of the year to test out new science activities that I want to implement next school year (so I can work out any kinks), but I also often pull out “tried and true” lessons. This is a “tried and true” lesson that could work well with many grades. I’ve used it several times with fourth graders. (Yes, I taught fifth grade, but my previous school did this awesome, one day looping activity at the end of the year so students could get a taste of what the next school year would be like!)
- Play a couple minutes from Episode 22 of the Magic School Bus: “Taking Flight”.
- Have students fill out notes about thrust, drag, gravity, and lift (complete with exaggerated hand motions, of course).
- Walk students step by step of each creating their own paper air plane. (Or let students make their own version if they are an older group.)
- Warn students that their pilot’s license will be revoked if they fly without permission.
- Explain that students will break up into groups at the masking tape starting lines (I put four to five around the room depending on the number of groups needed). Emphasize that they will aim their planes ONLY at the masking tape “X” on the floor for their group and ONLY ONE pilot will fly at a time.
- Explain that students will measure how close their plane was to the center “X” (using unit of your choice – inches or centimeters) and record that number on your chart.
- Let your pilot’s fly!
Click here to download my “Science of Flight” freebie!
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