Science and Stories: Flight Science 7-15-15

By Awnali Mills

Today’s storytime was awesome!  Because our SRC theme is “Every Hero Has a Story,” I wanted to do Superhero Science.  But I had trouble coming up with things that would be easy for preschoolers to do, so I switched to Flight Science.  ‘Cause, you know, superheroes often fly.

Yeah.  We’ll go with that.

DinosoaringThree Little Dinosaursa mountain of friends

So, my books this week were Dinosoaring by Deb Lund, Three Little Dinosaurs by Charles Fuge, and A Mountain of Friends by Kerstin Schoene.  So, you look at that list and think “What?  I thought you said flight!”  Trust me.

Of course, my junior scientists all started with a look at the weather.  Then we took a peek in my magic bag and came out with this.

Flight Science 8

It’s a glider.  Naturally, the kids (and adults) were skeptical, especially when I put it on my head and wore it like a crown.  But, it does fly, and pretty well, too.  Instructions for making it can be found here.

Then, I asked if dinosaurs could fly.  Well, that was a resounding NO!  I did not bring up pterodactyls at this point, just brought out the first book, Dinosoaring.  This was really fun, with lots of interaction.  As the dinosaurs try to get their plane off the ground they try lots of different things.  I kept asking “Will that work?”  And kids kept shouting, “NO!”  But eventually, it does work and the dinos soar.

Then, we all stood up and did The Airplane:

The airplane has great big wings (arms outstretched)
Its propeller spins around and sings “vvvvvv!” (make one arm go round)
The airplane goes up (lift arms)
The airplane goes down (lower arms)
The airplane flies high (arms outstretched, turn body around)
Over the town! (fly around)
Credit: Preschool Rainbow

We talked about all the things we could see on the ground below us.

When they sat down, we did the flannel Five Little Astonauts.  This was a lot of fun.  The kids shouted out the number of astronauts now on the moon and then hollered “Hey astronaut!” as loud as they could, and then we all blasted off.

One astronaut went up in space
Upon the moon to play one day
He had such enormous fun
That he called for another astronaut to come.

Our second book was Three Little Dinosaurs.  This is about three little dinosaurs who want nothing more in the world than to be able to fly.  Jumping off a volcano doesn’t work, but a friendly pterodactyl gives them a ride, so they do get to fly.  So, yes, some dinosaurs COULD fly!

Then we all got up and sang Zoom, Zoom, Zoom (now, with extra verses!).

Then we talked about how manmade things weren’t the only things that could fly, and I put up my Five Little Bluebirds.

Five little blue birds, hopping by my door
One went to build a nest, and then there were four

Four little blue birds singing lustily
One got out of tune, and then there were three

Three little blue birds, and what should one do,
But go in search of dinner, leaving only two.

Two little blue birds singing for fun
One flew away, and then there was one.

One little blue bird sitting in the sun
He took a little nap, and then there was none.

This made a natural segue into A Mountain of Friends.  I know it will come as a shock to you, but there are some birds that don’t fly.  I know!  Shocking, right?  And, in A Mountain of Friends, there is a little penguin who just wants to soar above the clouds.  He is very sad because he can’t, and his friends devise a way to help him achieve his goals.  This is a fun book because the kids need to help the penguin by turning the book long-ways (of course, I did that), and the kids and I counted how many animals stood on top of one another to get the penguin above the clouds.

Bernoulli's Principle

That finished up storytime, so it was on to science!  One station demonstrated the Bernoulli Principle.  Take about a 1” x 11” strip of paper.  Hold it right under your bottom lip and blow.  The paper will rise up into the air.  The air on top of the paper (a plane’s wing) is going faster than the air on the bottom, and that’s what causes it to rise in the air.  This station didn’t have the same kid appeal as the other stations, but almost all the strips of paper were gone at the end, so I know kids did it.  I just didn’t get any pictures of them.  This picture is copied from the PBS site from which I got the experiment.

Flight Science 5 Flight Science 6

The second station was making paper helicopters.  I had precut all the helicopters, so all they had to do was fold them and drop them, then add a paperclip to the bottom to see if that made a difference in the way it flew.  I had a stool by this station because it needs a bit of height to give the helicopter enough time to spin.  I had a hard time catching anyone actually dropping their helicopter, but there was a whole lotta droppin’ going on!

Flight Science 9 Flight Science 4

The third station was the hoopster.  This weird contraption does NOT look like it should fly, but it actually flies very well—better than most paper airplanes I’ve tried.  I did do one variation to the instructions.  Instead of using 3×5 cards, I precut old manila folders to the final correct dimensions.  That way moms/kids only had to tape two pieces of paper into circles instead of taping papers together to make the circles (this makes sense if you look at the directions). This was a very popular station.  For the two flying stations (hoopster and paper airplanes), I set them up on one side of the room and decreed that kids could only aim them at the doors across the room, and could not fly them if anyone was between them and the door.  This worked pretty well—at least nobody got biffed with a plane.

Flight Science 3 Flight Science 2

The fourth station was paper airplanes.  I wasn’t sure that this would be popular, since paper airplanes are pretty basic and simple to construct at home, but, boy howdy!  Kids raced to this station.  I just set out copy paper and diagrams of two pretty basic planes.  The experiment here was to see which plane flew better, and did it make a difference if you flew from the ground or from a stool.  One of the plane designs was a clear winner.

Flight Science 1

I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures taken because I almost immediately ended up on the floor constructing planes for moms with two kids (and some engineering-challenged moms).  Still, there was a lot of excitement, and I was thrilled to see all the kids experimenting with the different stations.  (I apologize for the fuzziness of the pictures.  I was obviously shaking from excitement…)


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