Area: Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Art
Grade Level: Primary School (years: 2-4)
Course: STEAM course
Timeframe: 45 min – 1 hour
Students are asked to build the tallest, most cost-effective, free-standing tower using only balloons and paper tape. The classroom is divided into groups of four. The teacher provides them with the appropriate material and give them instructions on how they will work. Each student is assigned with a specific role, as in order to build a stable and tall tower they will have to work as a team that each of its members will be responsible for a certain part. In the groups of four there are 3 roles: the architect that draws and calculates the tower’s height, the 2 builders that are responsible for constructing the tower following architect’s instructions and the economist whose role is to calculate and advise his/her team on how they will spend their available resources. Moreover, when they use the balloons and the paper tape pieces they have to be careful as ‘they have to pay’. At the end the team that wins the challenge is not only the one who built the tallest tower but also the one who spent less money.
Upon completion of this Lesson students will be able to:
- Understand why it is difficult to build a stable tower using balloons (physics)
- Calculate the height of the tower using the appropriate equipment (math)
- Understand the importance of resources
- Understand the different roles in teams and in jobs and how important each of them is
- Work during limited time, more concentrated using organizational strategies
- Balloons (multi-colored)
- Paper tape
- Blank sheets
- Assigning Roles (5 minutes): This lesson plan can take place either in the classroom or in the laboratory, in both cases teacher has to make sure that students have enough space in their tables in order to build their towers. In this first activity students, in groups of four, discuss and choose the role they want to have in their team. Each student describes his/her interests and tries to find the role that fits more to him/her.
- Designing (10 minutes): The team has 10 minutes to design the tower. In this activity the whole team discuss, and the ‘architect’ is responsible for drawing the tower. If team has enough time and they wish, they can decide on which colours they will use so that they will make their tower look more appealing. However, during this activity it is important to remember that the most important element is the stability as due to the lack of weight it is not an easy task for the tower to be stable.
- Building the tower (20 minutes): Now the teams are ready to start building the tower. They will have only 20 minutes, so in this case they should also work carefully and all together. In this activity students will understand important concept of physics and also, they will have to manage the given time. Students will ‘buy’ their materials by the teacher. That means that they also have to be careful on how much money they spend. At the end of this activity, students use their rulers so as to calculate the tower’s height.
- Calculate the cost (10 minutes): In this last activity, the team reports to the economist how many balloons and paper tape pieces they used. Then the economist sums the money spent. At the end of the activities, teacher could ask his/her students which tower is more appealing to them. The tower that got the most votes wins 10 extra points.
Instructions for teachers
- In each stage the teacher is responsible for following the course of this lesson plan. Students are asked to work in teams with separated roles. This lesson plan is a project-based lesson.
- For the assessment the teacher fills out the following table. The team that has a stable, taller and most effective tower wins the challenge.
- Balloons: 2€/ balloon
- Paper Tape: 1€/ piece