Wanting to do some kind of STEM activity with the 4th graders, I did some research and came across a blog post from Angela Willyerd, titled “The Great Turkey Race.” I did buy her packet and am glad I did – love how the design process is incorporated in the lesson!
The Problem: “Farmer Dave wants to choose the biggest and best turkey for his town’s Thanksgiving Feast. He decides to race them, assuming that the biggest turkey will be the slowest. Well, the turkeys get wind of this and decide to create a double because they don’t want to become Thanksgiving dinner!
The Challenge: The students have to create a turkey “‘double” using some common items such as styrofoam bowls, toilet paper rolls.
Angela has created a fantastic PowerPoint that walks the students through the process so we started with that. I told the class the materials they would have and what had to be included – head, body, feet, and tail feathers. Then, I asked them to sketch what they had in mind. The next step was to decide on a group design – not easy when each person is fond of their own!
The groups set to work creating some of the strangest turkey doubles I’d ever seen!
One group held up pieces of their styrofoam bowl and sheepishly asked if they could have another.
The test track had been marked by masking tape and as groups finished, the asked me to time their turkey.
This one actually rolled quite well but too many turkey parts were missing from the design!
This one was pretty cute but the team couldn’t get it to move.
They changed the design and tried again.
This was such a good challenge for learning that sometimes things don’t work they way you expect and changes need to be made. No one became frustrated; they quickly went back to their place and began to brainstorm how certain changes might affect the outcome.
Was it loud? Oh, my, yes! Were the students learning? Most definitely!
We may just continue Thanksgiving AFTER the break so that other classes have the opportunity to give this a try.