Another STEM unit that is very popular with my students. We teachers are a sneaky sort, though . . . because this unit is packed with challenging critical thinking activities, math, physics, and engineering—even a GATE social-emotional lesson. If you’ve purchased any of my STEM design lessons and units before, you know what to expect. If you have not, please read the reviews!
Use this for your advanced groups, or send students off on an independent investigation.
Level: Extra challenging for 3rd grade GATE and appropriate all the way up to 7th grade.
Time: 10 hours+
Cost: about 50 cents per student
Overview of Lessons
Amusement Park Season Passes: We start with math and economics as we examine season passes based on a printed advertisement. Follow this with challenging, multi-step math computations. Our math, of course, is Common Core referenced.
Scarcity: Our economics lesson continues as we study economic scarcity. What scarce skills do we have? In a social-emotional extension and graphic design challenge, our students think about their own scarce skills and design a “ticket” for others who might find those skills useful.
Swing Rides and Inertia: Go out to the playground for careful observations, and document them graphically to show your understanding of inertia in this real-world application. Next Generation Science referenced.
Swing Ride Construction: See the materials list in the preview. This construction only requires one wood cut—a simple one. That doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. We’ll construct a rubber band driven miniature swing ride using our best geometry and measurement skills for accurate design and engineering. The instructions are written so students may complete this as an independent project.
Pendulum Physics Experiment: Our students use their swing ride to conduct a physics experiment with pendulums. What affects period the most? Length of string, mass, or starting position?
Safety Design Engineering Challenge: Our swings will have to be safe. Use the templates provided to make seats for marble passengers, or present the seat design as an engineering challenge.
What is RPM? Physics and multi-step math problems.
RPM Applications: We adapt our swings into automated rubber band driven machines and study potential and kinetic energy along the way as we collect data and make calculations in a physics experiment.
Design a Sign: Students design a sign for their swinging rides as they prepare to share their creations with other students. It’s a real world summary of learning!
Bonus Challenge: Can students use a primary source photo to construct a model of a swing seen at the World’s Fair of 1904?