Learning about flying with science kits is fun. As I already told you my kids are crazy about things that fly. We have more airplanes, gliders, kites and helicopters that should be legal. Sometimes I wonder if we should call our house a museum and charge for admission.
When we are not playing with planes, baking airplane shaped cookies, reading books about airplanes and designing our own models we like to do science kits. Today I’m going to tell you about our experience with Magic School Bus Soaring into Flight Kit.
Airplanes fly. We all know it. How? Is it because they have “jet engines”? Hmm, maybe not. I heard that shape has something to do with it. I can’t be sure. As a parent of children, with one thousand questions about airplanes, I found myself totally unprepared to answer most of them. Maybe I slept through the aerodynamics course back in high school (wait, did we have aerodynamics class in high school?).
Every time my kids stumble upon a topic I don’t know much anything about (slugs, puke, ghosts, they have diverse interests), I learn about it along with them. And I always appreciate a good resource to help us on our learning adventure. Soaring into Flight is a great learning tool. It might not answer ALL the questions, but it will sure explain a lot.
Some experiments are simple. They are simple because they use everyday things to demonstrate scientific concepts. I think this simplicity is a genius. It elevates the mundane to the level of scientific investigation. What will happen if you drink the juice out of a juice box and keep sucking in on the straw? What’s the hypothesis? Results? Conclusions? One minute we were just drinking juice, and now we are talking about air pressure, a topic pertinent to the science behind flight.
In another experiment we made four different paper airplanes and tested, which one is the best. I was utterly surprised to find that a large paper clip attached to the tip of a paper airplane makes it flight farther. Why did it happen? So many topics to talk about here: weight, fast moving air, lift, how design affects performance. We made lots of paper airplanes in the past, but never once I thought about such simple thing as testing different designs to see which one is most efficient. Science is everywhere.
The kit includes 12 hands-on experiments. Each experiment addresses a topic related to flying. I love the explanations that come with each experiment. It helped me figure out the main concepts involved, so if I didn’t have enough knowledge to explain it, I could easily look it up. If it stirred our curiosity and made us hungry for more, we got a book specifically on that subject.
Explore the Kit… without the kids
If you want to keep your sanity, I suggest you first explore the kit without the kids. Lock yourself up some place quiet (try a bathroom, if all else fails) and read the booklet. No, it’s not the case of it being so good; you need to enjoy it in private. Remember that moment when you bring a cake with lighted birthday candles into a room? Everybody squeals with delight. The excitement is flying high. A birthday child blows the candles and the room erupts into cheers. I thought I would go for that set up. We all gathered around a table. With lots of whooping, cheers, and excited giggles we ceremoniously opened the box with Soaring into Flight kit, took out the parts and…. All hell broke loose. Ok, Ok, I’m exaggerating. What really happened was that the noise level went through the roof with three excited kids simultaneously asking questions, demanding to know what each part is for and …there was me trying against all odds to concentrate my mind on what I’m reading, while talking to them “No you can’t take this out of the room! I don’t know what this is for! Don’t break it! I’m trying to read!” Just trust me: you need to know which one is a pump and why it’s in the kit.
Let them explore the kit before you try the experiments
No matter how fun are the experiments, for
my all kids half the fun is touching everything and trying to figure out what they can do with it. Look! Mom! Rocket is on my head! I can even shove it in my… (you don’t need the specifics. You do? Ok, truck. What did you think? My son shove the rocket in his truck). One good rule to implement at this stage is that everything has to stay in one room … or you will not see some parts again until next Christmas or your youngest child’s college graduation.
Materials in (and not in) the kit
Let me tell you first about the things you will need that are NOT included in a kit: baking soda, vinegar, juice box, a pair of chairs, tape, and scissors. The kit contains: parachute, 3 balloons, 2 ping pong balls, 2 paper clips, strip of paper, dowel, string, measuring cup, paper plane models, 3 foam rockets, paper tape measure, elastic band, funnel, glider, clothespin, rocket launcher, and spinner.
Experiment 1 – Air Pressure: Collapse a Juice Box
Buy a juice box and drink all the juice out of the box. Continue sucking on the straw once the box is empty. What happened to the box? And why? This is an introduction to the topic of air pressure.
Experiment 2 – High-Low Pressure: Move floating ping pong balls
Hang two ping pong balls about 1 inch apart and blow between them. Fast moving air causes objects to move.
Experiment 3 – Flapping Motion: Make Paper Rise
Place a strip of paper under a lower lip and blow. The flapping, lift and upward motion.
Experiment 4 – Paper Airplane Race
Fold four slightly different paper airplanes (models in the kit). Throw each one and decide which design works best.
Experiment 5 – Steering
Fold one more paper airplane (from the kit). Experiment with folding ailerons up and down to move airplane to the right/left.
Experiment 6 – Fly a Glider
Throw a glider (from the kit) and measure the distance that glider went with the tape measure (provided in the kit).
Experiment 7 – How Jet Engines Work (the most exciting of all experiments)
Blow up a balloon and close it with a clothespin. Tape it to a straw, which has a string passing throw it. The string is stretched between two chairs. Take the clothespin off…. The air leaving balloon pushes it forward. My kids wanted to do this one again and again and again! Did I say “again” yet?
Experiment 8 – Launch your rocket
Press down on the pump of the rocket launcher (everything included in a kit). (Very exciting!!!)
Experiment 9 – Launch your rocket using baking soda and vinegar as a fuel (one of the top liked experiments) Put vinegar in a pump, put baking soda in the rocket launcher. Quickly place the pump in the rocket launcher and … BLAST into space! Any time my kids can experiment with baking soda and vinegar they are happy!
Experiment 10 – Helicopter fun: make a spinner soar
Use a spinner (provided in a kit) to see how the moving rotors of the helicopter work.
Experiment 11 – Gravity
Drop a piece of a paper and pencil. The focus is on how fast something falls down.
Experiment 12 – Experiment with Parachute
Sail large and small parachute. Does size make a difference?
What do you think? If you have read this far, you probably have a child (or two) interested in flying. And if you are looking for a fun way to learn about flying, Soaring into Flight is definitely educational and entertaining.
Have you ever tried the Magic School Bus kits? Which one was your favorite?
|The magic school bus: SOARING INTO FLIGHT|
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