Sanity Savers: Roller Coaster Wall

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by: Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Toilet paper tubes, glue, scissors, cardboard box

Sanity Savers: Roller Coaster Wall

Length:

10-15 minutes

Academic Subjects:

Science
This lesson supports the following standards:
ETS1.A: Defining Engineering Problems- Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints).

Directions for Rollercoaster Wall:     

One of my favorite things to do at Explore & More is use the rollercoaster wall. I miss it so much that I decided to build my own! Here are the steps to build a rollercoaster wall.
1.) Gather a few cardboard tubes together. They can be gift wrap, toilet paper, or paper towel tubes. Don’t cut them just yet.
2.) Find a cardboard box with four sides. It can be a shoe box or in my case a granola bar box I cut in half. The box will need close walls because the marble is going to bounce off them and continue down the track.
3.) Decide on a layout for the rollercoaster wall. This will determine how big to cut your tubes. Visualize the rollercoaster by drawing lines where you will place the cardboard tubes. Each one needs to be diagonal and opposite of the last tube.

4.) Place the tubes against your cardboard box to decide how to cut them. Then cut each cardboard tube in half.  
5.) Put a little glue on the side of the cardboard tube and glue it right to the wall.  
6.) Repeat this process and place the next cardboard tube at an angle going down. Keep repeating until the wall is full!  
7.) Finally when the glue is dry, place a marble at the top and watch it go down the tubes! 

Have you ever wondered how rollercoasters work? Rollercoasters don’t have engines so they use different types of energy to drive all the way around the track. First rollercoasters need to get up a hill by either chain or other launch methods. As the rollercoaster car is going up the first hill it is building potential energy. Potential energy is stored energy that is going to be used later. Once the rollercoaster car gets to the top of the hill, gravity takes over and the car descends down the hill. At this point the potential energy changes into kinetic energy, which is moving energy. The car continues down the track using kinetic energy until the tracks hit the brakes and the car stops!

Vocabulary-

Engineer– a person who builds, or maintains engines, machines, or public works.
Gravity– the force that pulls two objects together.                   

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!                                           

Sanity Savers: Amazing Marble Mazes

Sponsored by: National Grid

 Written by Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Cardboard box, hot glue / glue, straws, cardboard strips, wooden dowels, marbles   

Sanity Savers: Amazing Marble Mazes

Length:

Half – One hour

Academic Subjects:

Science
This lesson supports the following standards:
ETS1.A: Defining Engineering Problems- Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints).

Directions for Amazing Marble Mazes:     

Today we are going to be building marble mazes! Think about a time you have done a maze in a coloring book. What sort of things did you see? How many paths to the end were there? Did anything stump you? Now’s your chance to build your own maze! You can even make the maze more exciting by giving it a maze! Will your maze feature a spaceship trying to zoom through an asteroid field? Or will your maze feature a mythological warrior running through a labyrinth!?  Although regular glue can be used for this project, this activity is a good introduction to safe tool use by using a hot glue gun. Grownups can provide guidance as the child handles the hot glue gun.

1.)  We are going to design the layout of our maze by drawing it with a pencil. Where will you start and end be? For the demonstration the start is at the bottom and the end is at the top of the box. Where ever you put your exit, we are going to outline a small hole for the marble to fall through. When we are designing we want to make sure our marble will fit down every pathway. If the pathway is too narrow the marble will not fit.

2.) Next we are going to start to glue down our walls. The walls can vary from straws, cardboard strips, and wooden dowels. You can measure them by laying them on your piece of cardboard and then using scissors to cut them. If you are using a hot glue gun, lay out some safety rules such as, not touching the nozzle. When the glue is coming out watch your fingers, it is very hot. Only place down ONE single line of glue per wall, then place it on your maze. 

3.) Cut a small hole at the end of your maze. This is where your marble will fall through.

4.) Make sure all your walls are dry, if they aren’t leave it somewhere safe to dry.

5.) This is the fun part, testing out your game! Grownups can join in on the fun and try the game themselves!  
 

Facts about mazes:

Did you know what of the largest mazes in the world is located at Dole Plantation in Hawaii? The maze is over two and a half miles long!

Vocabulary:  

Labyrinth– A complicated way of passages in which it is difficult to find one’s way.
Hedge– A fence that is formed by closely growing bushes or shrubs. 

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!        

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by: Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Toilet paper tube, round object to use for tracing wheels, construction paper, craft stick, wooden dowels, glue, tape, markers, straw, cardboard

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

Length:

10-15 minutes

Academic Subjects:

Science
This lesson supports the following standards:
ETS1.A: Defining Engineering Problems- Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints).

Directions for Wind Powered Cars       

1.) Using a round object, trace 4 circles onto a sheet of cardboard. (You can also use recycled caps or even cd’s!)   

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

2.) Cut all four wheels out. Try to make them as similar and smooth as possible.   

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

3.) Cut your paper straw to fit on the bottom of a toilet paper roll. Then glue each straw onto the tube. Make sure there is plenty of distance between the two straws.  

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

4.) Slide your wooden dowels through the straws. Then one at a time we are going to line a cardboard wheel up to the dowel. Carefully poke a hole through the center of your wheel and slide it onto the dowel (axel) Glue or tape the wheel onto the dowel. I glued the outside and the inside of the hole to make sure the wheels would not slide off.     

5.) Design your sail! Then tape it onto a craft stick.  

 
6.) Carefully cut a slit horizontally into the top of the paper towel tube. Then slide your sail into the hole.

Sanity Savers: Wind Powered Cars

Is your car not sailing as fast as you want? Make sure your wheels are round enough. Make sure your straws are balanced so they’re not lopsided. This car uses a simple machine called wheels and axels. The axels are the rods that connect the two wheels together. Wheels and axels can be found anywhere from your bike to door knobs!  

Vocabulary 

Energy– the ability to do work (and play) Energy is how things change and move.

Wind energy– This type of energy is created with wind. It is considered a renewable source, because we cannot use up all the wind.   

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!  

Sanity Savers: Sky Painting

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by: Dan Walsh,
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Blue, white, yellow paint, brush, paper, colored pencils, scissors, 2 sheets of construction paper/ card stock, and newspaper for a table cloth. Optional: A small bowl with water    

Length:

Paint time- 5 minutes

Academic Subjects:

Art/Science

Directions for Sky Painting:   

1.)   Draw a few clouds, the sun, and a rainbow on a sheet of paper. Color the sun and rainbow with crayons or colored pencils. A rainbow’s colors can be broken down by ROYGBIV, red, orange, green, blue, indigo, violet. Once they are colored in cut out the shapes.

2.)   Optional: Prepare the small bowl with water. 

Sanity Savers: Sky Painting

3.)   Place a sheet of newspaper down then place another white piece of paper down. Have a grown-up dab a few dots of blue and white paint randomly across the page.  

Sanity Savers: Sky Painting

4.)   Now roll up those sleeves and get painting! When you mix the white and blue paint together, will the blue become lighter or darker? Have the student take the paintbrush and swirl the paint together in swoops until the entire page is covered. Make sure they are blending the paint as they go.

5.)   Once the page is covered in paint, have the student lay the pre-cut sun, clouds, and rainbows down on the wet paint. Once the wet paint dries, the shapes should dry onto the paper! If not you can use a glue stick to glue the shapes down later.  

 For this project the shapes can be changed into anything! Other weather patterns can be added like lighting or snowflakes. Students can switch out the weather shapes for a pirate ship at sea or an underwater scene with fish. Did you know that a rainbow is reflected sunlight after a rainstorm? Sunlight may look yellow or white when we see it, but the rays are built up of red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet. During a rainstorm, the sun light shines through the raindrops, and the rain acts as a prism. The prism bends the sunlight and reflects back the colors of a rainbow.     

Vocabulary:

Prism– A piece of glass or other see through material that has two identically shaped ends called faces. Light travels through one side of the glass and comes out as a rainbow on the other end!  

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!  

 

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

Sponsored by: National Grid

Written by Dan Walsh
STEM Educator

Supplies ideas:

Brown paper bag, pencil, scissors, envelopes, spare buttons, glue, binoculars (instructions here)    

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

Length:

Half an hour

Academic Subjects:  

Art & Science
This lesson supports the following standards:

Directions for Jane Goodall’s Safari:  

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

Now that the weather is getting nicer it’s time to break out the safari vests and binoculars and go on a backyard safari! A perfect scientist to talk about with this subject is Jane Goodall. Goodall is a zoologist that studies social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees. Goodall has studied chimpanzees for over sixty years! Now is your chance to be inspired by Jane Goodall by going on your own wild safari at home!   

Safari Vest Directions:  

1.)  For this craft you will need; a brown paper bag, pencil, scissors, envelopes, spare buttons, and glue.

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

2.)  Lay the brown paper bag on the table. Measure your child and use the pattern as a guide. 

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

3.)  On the back side of the paper bag, draw the rest of the head hole. Make sure it is in line with the front side head hole. 

4.)  Cutting along the black lines you will cut out the head and arm holes.   

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

5.)  Place two envelopes on the sides of the vest to measure them. If you are using white envelopes you can color them before cutting them down to fit on your vest.  

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

6.)  If you have spare buttons you can use glue dots, or glue to stick them onto your envelopes. If you don’t have buttons you can draw the buttons on the envelope!  

7.)  Glue the envelopes down on both sides of the vest. 

8.)  Add more details! I added another strap and a button at the top.  

9.) Make your binoculars (instructions here)

10.)  Go for a safari around the house or even in the backyard! A family member can hide stuffed animals around the house and the child can go on a safari finding the animals!   

Sanity Savers: Zoo Safari at Home

Fun facts about Jane Goodall:

When studying chimpanzee’s Jane Goodall learned that chimps used tools. It was believed that only humans used tools until this discovery. Jane also learned that chimps have different personalities. Some chimps are quiet, generous, and some can even be bullies! Chimps also express emotions such as happiness and sadness.  

Vocabulary:

Zoologist– a scientist who studies animals and their interaction with their ecosystem.
Primatologist– a scientist who studies primates. Primates range from apes, gorillas, orangutans, and many more!  
Habitat– The natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

Check out our other Sanity Savers posts here!