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We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week, we will learn the science behind building paper planes, including concepts of force and gravity. We’ll build different types of paper planes and figure out which planes can fly furthest and how much weight they can carry!

Supplies you will need:

  • Paper
    • All types of paper! Printer paper, construction paper, cardstock, cardboard… maybe even paper towels, if you think they might work!
  • Tape
  • “Cargo”
    • This can be any small, not-too-heavy items around your house! Pom poms, paperclips, pens and pencils, hair ties, lip balms…

Build your plane

Let’s start simple! Build a paper plane. You can use any design you like!

If you’ve never built a plane before-- you’re in luck! Here are some simple instructions:

  1. Take one sheet of paper. Fold it in half, length wise. Unfold it and lay it flat again.
  1. Fold the two top corners to the centre line.
  1. Fold the top edges to the centre line.
  1. Fold the triangle in half, towards you, along the same line you folded in the beginning.
  1. Fold the wings down to meet the bottom edge of the planes body.

Well done! You’ve built a paper plane. (more detailed instructions and a video are available here!).

Test your plane

Can your plane go the distance? Test it out- throw it and see how far it can go! You might need to practice throwing it a few times first!

Try different designs

If it doesn’t quite fly, it might mean it’s time to try another design! There are dozens of different styles of paper planes- some easy to build, and some very tricky. Check out some different designs, and practice building a few different planes until you find one that flies fast and far! You might also want to try building with different types of paper- some might work better than others.

Add cargo

Time for the true challenge: can your plane transport cargo? Tape some cargo onto the back of your plane, and see if it still flies well.

  • The heavier the cargo, the harder it might be-- how much cargo can your plane carry?
  • If your plane won’t fly with cargo-- how can you make your plane stronger?

Bonus challenges

  • Set up a target. Can you aim well enough to hit the target? Do different designs of planes work better?
  • Time your flight. How long does your plane stay in the air for? How can you make it stay in the air for longer?
  • Measure the distance. Create a starting point, and throw your plane, then measure how far it travels! Practice a couple of times and with different designs, until it flies as far as it possibly can.

How does it work?

  • Paper planes are gliders. Their wings allow the plane to “sit” on the air by compressing air molecules beneath them, creating higher pressure below the wing than there is above the wing. The wings “rest” on the higher air pressure.
  • Features like rudders and tails, that you might see in fancier paper planes, can change the flight direction or performance:
    • Sturdy body = better control of the airplane
    • Rudder = stabilizes the flight
    • Flap = help turn the plane
    • Heavy front = nosedive
  • Objects in flight are acted upon by the opposing forces of lift, gravity, thrust, and drag. For more about how flight works, check out this video: How do planes get off the ground?

Have fun building your planes! And don’t forget to share your creations with us, @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL!

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library:

Origami Toys, by Paul Jackson (electronic resource, recommended for 8-12 years)

Flight, by Andrew Nahum (electronic resource, recommended for 6-12 years)

Airplanes, on World Book Kids (electronic resource, recommended for 8-12 years)

Resources for grown-ups:

We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week we are challenging children to construct structures using sheets of newspaper.

  • Challenge #1: Build the tallest tower
  • Challenge #2: Build the strongest structure

Supplies you will need:

  • Tape
  • Newspapers (we recommend using a broadsheet newspaper if possible, such as from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, or National Post, but you could use any newspaper you have available. If you don’t have access to a newspaper, that’s okay, too! Just use whatever scrap paper you have)
  • Measuring tape or a ruler
  • Books 

Challenge #1: Tallest Tower

Build the tallest free-standing structure you can build, using only: 

  • 6 pieces of newspaper
  • 1 metre of tape

You can rip, fold, roll, or do anything else you need to the newspaper!





Challenge #2: Strong Structure

Build a structure that can hold 5 books at least 20 centimetres off the ground for at least 5 full seconds without collapsing, using only:

  • 10 pieces of newspaper
  • 1 metre of tape
  • 1 ruler or measuring tape

You can rip, fold, roll, or do anything else you need to the newspaper!

Image source: DiscoverE

Tips to get started: 

We might not think of newspapers as very strong, but we can transform their pages into tall or strong structures with one simple tip! Begin by rolling the newspaper into tightly-rolled tubes.

 

Image sources: DiscoverE

Tightly-rolled tubes can create strong shapes that distribute weight, pushing on every part of the paper, not just one spot. When you are building your structures, think of which shapes would be good at distributing weight evenly!



If you look at the tallest buildings in the world, you will notice many of them have a wide, strong support on the bottom. This spreads the surface area that is supporting the high height to a wider space at the base to allow for more stability.

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library

Roberto the Insect Architect by Nina Laden (animated picture book, recommended for 3-8 years)

  

DK Eyewitness Books: Building by Philip Wilkinson (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (mystery / fantasy ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

Castle by David Macaulay (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 10-15 years)

Resources for grown-ups:

3D Vision Challenge

We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week, we will be creating our very own 3D glasses, and exploring the concepts behind creating 3D drawings!

Supplies you will need:

  • Paper
  • Red and blue markers
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • If you have a printer, you can print out this 3D glasses template - or, find a pair of sunglasses and trace them!

Building your glasses

image from: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/diy-3d-glasses-1250758

  • Print out the 3D glasses template, or trace a pair of glasses. Cut these out, including the eye holes, and tape together.
  • Cut two pieces of plastic wrap, big enough to fit over the holes in your glasses. Colour these in- one blue, one red. Tape the red filter to the left eye, and the blue filter to the right eye.

 

How do they work?

  • How we see
    • Our eyes see by sensing the light that objects reflect. We can see in bright light and dim light, but we cannot see when there is no light at all.
    • When we look at an object, the rays of light enter the front of the eye. The eye changes these rays into signals, that are sent to the brain.
    • The brain forms a picture from the signals sent to the mind. Our eyes and brains work together to help us see.
  • Stereoscopy
    • To see how this works, try looking at a nearby object with one eye closed, then with the other. Does it look a little bit different?
    • Stereoscopy is the viewing of an object in three dimensions. The eyes are 6-7cm apart, so each eye sees at a slightly different angle, and sends slightly different messages to the brain.
    • The brain pulls the two images together, in what we call stereoscopy vision. The image formed by the brain has dimension and shape.
  • Anaglyph 3D images
    • An anaglyph is a picture consisting of two images combined together, one printed in red, the other in blue. When we look at the image with a red light filter over one eye and a blue over the other, we see a stereoscopic, or 3D, effect.

 

Creating your own 3D images

  • We can create a 3D anaglyph by drawing a simple image with a red pencil, and then drawing the same image on top with a blue pencil.

image from: http://www.literaryhoots.com/2015/05/3d-drawing-anaglyphs-for-kids.html

  • There are a few different ways you can do this:
    • You can draw with one colour (i.e. red) first, and then draw with the second colour (i.e. blue) second; OR
    • You can use tape or a rubber band to keep your red and blue pencils/markers together as you draw; OR
    • You can draw in regular pencil first, then on a new page trace your drawing in red, then shift the top page slightly to trace it again in blue. Here’s an example of how this works.
  • If you want part of your image to seem further away, draw the blue image on the left-hand side and the red image on the right. If you want it to seem closer, draw the red image on the left and the blue on the right.
  • Start by drawing simple shapes, like a box, to practice getting the lines the right distance apart.
  • Once you’ve mastered the lines, try some more complex drawings.
  • Why not also check out these anaglyph images of Mars, or this 3D Rollercoaster ride!

And don’t forget to share your creations with us, @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL!

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library:

Stem Lab by Jack Challoner and the Smithsonian Institution (non-fiction book/eBook, recommended for 8-12 years)

 

First How Things Work Encyclopedia, by DK (non-fiction book/eBook, recommended for 6-12 years)

 

Sight, on World Book Kids (electronic resource, recommended for 8-12 years)

 

Resources for grown-ups:

We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL!

This week’s challenge: 

This week we are challenging children to build a marble run. Can you build a marble run with all of the features below?

  • The track must be at least 1 metre long
  • It must include at least 1 drop (a place where the marble travels from one part of the track to another unsupported)
  • The course must change directions at least 2 times
  • It must finish by landing in a space 15 cm x 15 cm (or smaller!)

Supplies you will need:

  • Marbles (or any small balls you might have on-hand)
  • Scissors
  • Tape (we prefer masking tape)
  • Cardboard tubes (from toilet paper or paper towel rolls) 
  • Extra cardboard
  • Any other craft supplies you might find useful (i.e. popsicle sticks, paper cups, etc.)

Tips to get started: 

Decide where to build your marble run. We built a self-supporting marble run using cardboard boxes, but you could also use walls or furniture to support your structure.

Make a plan for how you will use your supplies and include all of the required features for the marble run. 

How do you want to start? At the beginning (where you release the marble) or the end (the landing pad)?

Consider gravity and momentum in creating your marble run.

  • Gravity is a force which tries to pull objects toward each other. 
    • Anything which has mass (weight) also has a gravitational pull. 
    • So what? If a round object (like a marble) is on a slanted surface, it will always roll downwards because of gravity. 

    • Momentum is a term that describes the strength of a moving object. 
      • Objects that are not moving do not have any momentum. Lightweight or slowly moving objects have less momentum, and heavy or fast-moving objects have lots of momentum.

  • So what? Your marble may get stuck in your run if it doesn’t have enough momentum, or it may have too much momentum and be difficult to control. Think about how you can build momentum or slow it down to help your marble move through the run smoothly. 

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library

Many Ways to Move: A Look at Motion by Jennifer Boothroyd (non-fiction book/ebook, recommended for 6-8 years)

Explore Gravity!: With 25 Great Projects by Cindy Blobaum (non-fiction book/ebook, recommended for 7-11 years)

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner (non-fiction book/ebook, recommended for 8-12 years)

Resources for grown-ups:

We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week we’re going to be completing a Geometry Scavenger Hunt to find examples of different shapes around your home or neighbourhood! 

Supplies you will need:

What’s the Challenge?

You are going to try and find as many examples of different geometric shapes as you can, just from searching around your home and local neighbourhood! 

Make a list of all the geometric shapes you can think of (or use our Geometry Scavenger Hunt Tracking Sheet to help you remember them all). Then, take a socially distant stroll through your neighbourhood (or just stay inside) and write down or draw every example of each shape that you see … it’s that simple! 

What was the most common shape you saw? 

What shape was the hardest to find an example of?

Could you find examples of 2D and 3D shapes?

Why is this activity important for STEM skills?

Geometry is all about shapes and their properties. 

Plane geometry is about flat shapes like lines, circles, triangles, and other shapes that can be drawn on a piece of paper. 

Solid geometry is about three dimensional objects like cubes, prisms, cylinders and spheres. These shapes are used to help explain important ideas about how objects relate to one another. 

These ideas are useful in many kinds of work. For example, people who build houses must understand these ideas so that they can make strong buildings. People who fly airplanes use geometric ideas to figure out their route. The ancient Egyptians used geometry to measure areas of land.

The world is full of geometric shapes. Some of them are large and famous. For example, giant triangular structures in Egypt called the pyramids are named for their geometric shape. A huge building in Washington, D.C., is named the Pentagon for its five-sided geometric shape. 

Geometric shapes are all around us every day. Many houses and buildings have square or rectangular walls. Many bridges have triangular supports underneath. Snowflakes are hexagons or six-sided shapes, and earthworms are shaped like cylinders, or tubes. We can understand our world better by learning something about geometry.

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library

Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (animated picture book, recommended for 3-8 years, available through Kanopy)

Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong (animated picture book, recommended for 3-8 years, available through TumbleBook Library)

The Book Bandit: A Mystery with Geometry by Melinda Thielbar (graphic novel ebook, recommended for 6-12 years, available through TumbleBook Library)

Geometry: It’s Easy! by Rebecca Wingard-Nelson (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 9-12 years, available through CloudLibrary)

PLUS: try Tumble Math for a huge selection of picture books and non-fiction books about geometry! 

Resources for grown-ups:

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