BT Middle School students enjoyed a hands-on exploration of physics, engineering, math and chemistry at the annual STEM Day.
Tennis Ball Tower Engineering Challenge: Students balanced the forces to steady a weight (tennis ball) as far off the ground as possible. This required maximizing resources in order to distribute the forces evenly to balance, fortify, and maintain both structure and weight. The goal was to use only the materials provided, construct the tallest tower that will hold a tennis ball for at least 10 seconds.
Paper Circuit: Students created simple electric circuits that made an LED light up using conductive copper tape on paper and a coin battery for the electrical supply. They learned about the nature of electrical circuits and the difference between simple and parallel circuits; why string lights go out if one bulb is broken; and how a broken light bulb in one socket will not affect the flow of electricity to other lights in the same room.
Magnetic Face Game: Students observed the way iron filings act in the presence of a strong but tiny magnet, creating a magnetic field; saw the usually invisible lines of force that are present between a magnet and magnetic materials like iron filings; made observations about tilting the wand to see the way the magnetic particles attract, compared to holding the magnet wand parallel to the face; and predicted how far away the magnet can be held before the magnetic field diminishes.
Marshmallow Blaster: Students played the role of an engineer and constructed a marshmallow blaster out of PVC pipe. They maximized the air flow through the launcher by placing their hands over the marshmallow insert hole. This caused the marshmallow to go much farther because the air was compressed into a smaller area.
Polymer Putty: Students explored chemical reactions by creating a polymer putty. When borax powder is mixed with water and white glue, it creates a polymer substance somewhere between a solid and a liquid, much like gelatin or chewing gum. A polymer is a chemical compound that is made of small molecules that are arranged in a simple repeating structure to form a larger molecule.
Domino Challenge: Through a series of successively difficult tasks, students competed as teams to try to finish all tasks and the final challenge. Students created various domino patterns that toppled in succession when the first domino is touched. Students applied concepts of force, action-reaction, energy transfer, conservation of energy, potential and kinetic energy and inertia.