We are in Week 2 of The Science Celebration. Last week we talked about biology with great lessons and free resources. Today we are continuing with this week’s theme of physical science. Physical science primarily includes basic physics and chemistry concepts. Physical science doesn’t have to be intimidating.
The focus is on lessons that are accessible and adaptable for multiple ages. When possible, I try to provide hands-on experiments. If that isn’t possible or the process is difficult to visualize, my goal is to create a hands-on activity that will illustrate the concept and reinforce the learning. Make sure to check out our other great physical science explorations.
Don’t forget to grab the template for today’s lesson.
Our Physics and Engineering Journey
We are focusing on physics and engineering this semester after studying human anatomy in the fall. We have been using a book to work through several physics and engineering lessons this semester. The book has been a little disappointing. The directions are often lacking and so many of the links don’t work that it becomes a bit of an issue to try to get through the lessons.
One of these frustrating lessons was on a paper helicopter experiment. We basically got the topic and then had to start from scratch. The good news is that there is lots of great information about helicopters out there and we had a great time. We actually were able to do more than anticipated by allowing our imaginations and curiosity to drive innovation.
How Helicopters Work
Helicopters work based on changes in air pressure that result in lift. As the blades rotate it causes a pressure shift that results in build up of pressure under the blades and a decrease in pressure above that moves the air and the helicopter.
You can see the example of lift using this toy. This toy is based on an ancient Japanese design known as a taketombo. You spin the toy and release. The spin is fast enough to create the pressure changes resulting in lift. As the blades slow down, the toy falls.
What We Did
We couldn’t really make a helicopter (not yet) so in order to illustrate how helicopters work, we designed our own in this paper helicopter experiment. These are known as roto-copters. These float down because it isn’t rotating quickly enough to cause lift, but it is rotating enough to cause a slight change and create drag. This results in slowing down the speed of descent.
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Check out this awesome link to explore more information about how roto-copters work.
After you make the primary design and get them to “fly”. Experiment with aspects of the design: fold the blades differently; add more weight; add additional blades; keep it open ended. Challenge teams to see whose copter can stay in the air the longest.