This week we designed and made paper airplanes! The word of the week was “force” and we watched a short video explaining that airplanes experience four forces: lift, weight/gravity, thrust, and drag. The specifics of these forces went a little over the heads of some of the students but there were a couple slightly older girls who were really into the concept!
We had printed out instructions for making some different types of airplanes and once each girl had made a few we experimented with putting paperclips on different parts of the planes to add weight. Putting paperclips on the wings didn’t work so great but paperclips on the body of the planes sometimes helped our planes to fly! Finally, we got to decorate our planes with stickers, markers, and colored paper. We ended Girls Science Club this week by getting to throw our finished airplanes from the top of the big staircase!
For this week’s activity, we built (and broke!) our own bridges. We started out by building bridges using only one piece of paper. To test the paper bridges, we placed pennies on top of the bridge until it broke, or failed. The girl’s learned that if they fold the paper like a fan, the bridge holds way more pennies! This demonstrated that the triangle is the strongest shape and often is used when building bridges.
After experimenting with the paper bridges, we built a second bridge using only gumdrops and toothpicks. The girls were very creative with their building. Some girls even incorporated the “strong shape”, the triangle, into their bridge design. We tested the bridges strength by weighting the bridge with pennies until the bridge failed. This generated a lot of excitement! Finally, we had the girl’s weigh the pennies on a scale to see what how much weight the bridge could hold. We learned a lot about engineering bridges!
This week we were all a jiggle of excitement growing worms from water! It was pretty wonderful. The goal was to teach the girls about molecules and I bought up the previous concepts of elements and reactions and how elements are like building blocks to make molecules that combine in reactions and create something new. Our molecules were from seaweed and a type of salt and we played out their reactions with the positive and negative parts of each molecule attracting and connecting. We had some great help from some of the older girls with this.
Then we began the experiment and made worms!! All together we mixed the alginate solution, which we dyed green and then made our own calcium chloride solutions.
It took quite a while to mix both of them, but after that came the fun part! We got to use droppers to put the alginate solution in the calcium chloride solution and make worms!! It was a little tricky to get the solution to come out of the droppers, so we had to fuss with it a little, but it lead to some awesome shapes.
Then we made extra special color changing worms by coloring them with red cabbage juice, which I extracted from the cabbage before the activity. That was just incredible, because if you put lemon juice on them, the purple worms turned pink, but if you put baking soda on them, they turn blue or green! Turns out, red cabbage has a natural pH indicator in it!
All in all, this led to a ton of crazy concoctions, some awesome reactions, and happy girls.