Whose Bounces the Most Times?

Most STEM teachers know the importance of letting students explore, but usually it’s the students who struggle with “exploration”. We have created a a post with ideas, activities, and experiments geared toward exploration, and here is one of those, which can be done with relatively little prep:

one container (small bowl) per group full of the following:

  • pennies
  • washers
  • rubber bands
  • straws
  • styrofoam pieces
  • balloons (these will pop, so make sure each group has several)
  • paperclips
  • string
  • any other simple items you can think of

Put the students in groups of 3-5 and give each group a set of materials (above). Tell the students the object is for the group is to design something that will allow the balloon bounce more times than everyone else’s. (The trick here is that most of the students will start by blowing up the balloons, which they don’t have to do, but don’t specify either way. Just tell them they can use the materials in any way.)

Sit back and let them explore different ways to do this. You may want to incorporate some rules about not being able to answer any questions for the duration of their exploration. Encourage them to keep a journal and write down any questions that they have before trying to solve them as a group by experimenting. If their questions remain unanswered/unsolved at the end of the time period, you may either answer them yourself or encourage the students to do their own research at home.

If you like this STEM Challenge, check out others here.