## You need

• A sturdy ruler (or another long, fast, flat object)
• A pencil
• A pile of books

## Make a Lever

1. Ask your child to use both hands to lift a stack of books up two inches.
2. Ask if they could lift the books with just two fingers.
3. Slide about two inches of the ruler under the stack of books.
4. Slide a pencil perpendicular to and under the ruler, close to the stack of books but not under it.
5. Hold the pencil in place and ask your child to push down on the ruler with two hands, then with two fingers, and then with one finger.

How many hands or fingers does your child need to lift the stack of books when using the ruler and pencil as a lever?

Does it feel easier or harder to lift the stack of books when using the ruler as a lever instead of lifting them straight up?

## Warm up

### 1) Mirror game

• Two students, forming a pair, stand opposite each other. One moves slowly and the other follows its movements in reverse. The roles can be changed without pause, so that the movements are kept as smooth as possible.
• Try to make faster and faster role changes, after which it will be possible to find a common flow mode, where neither the student controls or follows, but where the movement is created together.
• Calm music (with a slow tempo!) in the background can be helpful.

### 2) Trio formations

• Try different ways to make touch contact with each other: for example, you can shake hands, keep one hand on your friend’s forehead, or hold your knees, foreheads or fingertips together.
• Try out the different ways you can create touch contact in groups of three. Which formation is your favorite? Show it to the rest of the class, too.
• Discuss together the trio formations created by the different groups. What characteristics did they have (small-large, down-up, feet-hands-hips-nose tips, etc., number of points of contact).
• Do you notice that quite a few of the formations are symmetrical, even though there was no mention of symmetry in the job description?

### 1) Rotational symmetry

• Divide into groups of six people (4-8 people also work if needed). Start by sitting or standing opposite each other in a circle and holding hands. What kind of symmetrical shapes can you create with the group? Try creating different shapes. Everyone in the group can take turns coming up with a position for others to follow, so that the rotational symmetry is preserved.
• What are your favorite shapes? How can you as a group move when you switch between shapes? What mathematical shapes can you see in your formations?
• Calm music in the background can be helpful. In this task, it’s best to use music that lacks a clear rhythm or melody.

### 2) Symmetry dance

• Keep the same group division and create a dance series of your favorite forms. What order should the shapes be in, and how should the group move? Memorize the order that you have agreed on. Also discuss how the dance begins and ends. Practice the symmetry dance a few times.
• After that, all groups will perform their dances in front of the rest of the class. The dances can also be recorded on video. Ideally, the videos should be recorded straight or slightly obliquely from above.
• Calm music in the background can be helpful. In this task, it’s best to use music that lacks a clear rhythm or melody.

## ENDING

• Look at pictures of snowflakes. Are they similar to the dances you just created?
• Watch the videos of your dances. What are the different elements that can be found in the dances? What are the similarities and differences between them?
• If the dances were created in groups with different numbers of students, you can also discuss whether there were differences between the dances.

You can continue to create more rotational symmetries by drawing mandalas or mirror images (one student draws the first part and the second should continue the image so that it is symmetrical) or create symmetrical images in the sand on a game board.

Idea taken from Lumatikka’s Math in Motion

## Supplies

• Shallow dish (we used a pie plate)
• Small dish (just big enough to hold some dish soap)
• Q-Tip cotton swab
• Milk (try a variety of different fat content milks and creams to see how it affects your reactions)
• Dish Soap (we used Dawn)
• Food Colouring (ensure it is liquid food colouring, gel food coloring will not work)

## Directions

Fill your dish with milk until is it about 1 – 2 cm deep.

Add some dish soap to your small dish and set it to the side.

Next add drops of food colouring around the plate. We used a variety of blues, a purple and a drop of yellow (to make stars and make it more like pictures of nebulas we have seen). We find it best to do this in random circle like patterns around the centre point.

Now it’s time for the big reaction!

Dip the Q-Tip into the dish soap. Then place it into the centre of the dish and watch the reaction! You can remove the Q-Tip after a couple of seconds so you can enjoy the explosions of colours.

As the reaction continues you can add more dish soap or more food colouring.

## Which Kinds of Milk are Perfect?

As we learned with our previous Magic Milk study, the answer to this question depends on the reaction you want to see. At first we tried this experiment with 2% milk, but the reaction was very rapid and didn’t last as long. So the second time we added a bit of cream. We didn’t want to only use cream because we knew that would result in fractals and we wouldn’t get the spread of colour we were looking for to create our Galaxy inspired look. Adding just a bit of cream was perfect and gave us some really cool colour spreads. Whole milk gave a similar result.

Ready to learn more about the science behind Magic Milk and how the fat content of milk affects the results? Let’s dig in!

## The Science Behind a Milk and Dish Soap Reaction

With our Magic Milk Science Fair Project we were able to study the effect fat content had on the movement of colour when a drop of dish soap is added. Keep in mind that milk is made up of minerals, proteins and fats. Proteins and fats are susceptible to changes, as we see in this reaction.

## Surface Tension

Liquids have something called surface tension. Water, milk, and cream are made up of molecules that have positive and negative charges on their surface. Just like magnets these charges allow them to attract and repel other molecules. When milk or cream is by itself, it’s molecules are surrounded by the same type of molecules, creating a nicely balanced push and pull. The exception is the top which is exposed to air which pushes down on the liquid, creating surface tension on the top of the liquid. This surface tension of the milk affects our explosion of color.

## Surfactant

There is a substance that affects a liquid’s surface tension, it’s called a surfactant. Dish soap is mostly comprised of surfactants. It has a hydrophilic part that is attracted to the water and a hydrophobic part that wants to interact with the fat molecules and repels water.

The pushing and pulling of the fat and water molecules in the milk separates them, resulting in a decrease of the surface tension.

## Impact of Ratios

We see a big difference between our various fat content milks due to the different ratios of fat to water in the liquids. The higher fat content milk is much thicker. We can see this before adding the dish soap if we just look at the food colouring drops. The food colouring spreads significantly in 2%, spreads a little in 18% and doesn’t move at all in 33%.

This means, in our 33% cream, there is less water for the hydrophilic part to attract, and way too much fat for the hydrophobic part to ineract with. The surfactant (dish soap), has very limited effect on the surface tension, which remains quite a viscous, stable liquid. This leads to the fractal style, very limited spread of colour we see in the high fat milk.

In the 2% milk we have lots of water and some fat, allowing the surface tension to be affected easily. This results in a dramatic dance of color but it doesn’t last as long.

The idea is taken from SteamPoweredFamily.com

## LEGO SYMMETRY

Try this fun symmetry challenge! Set up half a baseplate with an abstract image and have your kiddo complete it using the principles of symmetry!

## LEGO Parachute

The mini-figs get to have all the fun! The challenge is to build a parachute from simple supplies that will see them safely land. Can you do it?

## LEGO Balloon Car

Build a balloon powered car that really goes! Race your car and see how far to can travel.

## LEGO Catapult

Build an awesome LEGO catapult using basic bricks for an easy STEM and physics activity. This fun homemade catapult just about everyone will want to make!

## LEGO Marble Maze

Build your own LEGO marble maze. Can you make it all the way through the maze from one end to the other?

All ideas taken from the LittleBinsForLittleHands.com blog.

## Three Little Pigs

For our STEM project, we wanted to try building all three types of the Three Little Pigs’ houses. Their goal was to make the house that can stand up best to mom’s “wolf blowing”. But you could also pull out a hair dryer for blowing.

Supplies needed for this project:

Straws, popsicle sticks, wooden blocks, string, masking tape, and rubber bands.

STRAW HOUSES:

For the first part of our Three Little Pigs STEM project, we made the straw houses. We made straw houses out of plastic straws. You could do this with paper or plastic straws~ whichever you prefer.  I started by just giving them string and rubber bands and straws. My son had no trouble with this, but my girls begged for tape, so we added that into the supplies.

STICK HOUSES:

Next, we made our stick houses.  These we did out of popsicle sticks and masking tape. IF you want to make it harder on them, make them collect sticks and tie them together with twine.

BRICK HOUSES:

We did our brick houses out of wooden blocks. Another fun option would be LEGO Bricks. This was the quickest and the easiest house to build. We thought that was funny because in the story of the Three Little Pigs, it’s the opposite.

The Results of Our Three Little Pigs STEM Project

The straw houses were the easiest to blow.  The stick houses were second. Some of them did not even move!  The bricks houses were not moveable, just like the story. However, the length of time building them was the opposite. It took my kids a lot longer to build the straw houses than any of the others.

Three Little Pigs STEM Project for Kids – Teach Beside Me

## Painting with sound

Thread different bells on pipe cleaners. Feel free to use different numbers of bells on the pipe cleaners. Bend the pipe cleaners around the brushes. It is also possible to glue the pipe cleaners to the brushes.

Ask the children to paint different things at different speeds. This will bring out the sounds. What does it sound like if you paint a circle versus a square. Ask the children to paint as it sounds and let them discover what is happening. The older children can paint blind. Attach different numbers of bells to the brushes – from just one to many.

The idea is taken from Lekolar

## See, think, wonder

A THINKING ROUTINE FROM PROJECT ZERO, HARVARD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

## Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?

This routine encourages students to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry.

## Application: When and where can I use it?

Use this routine when you want students to think carefully about why something looks the way it does or is the way it is. Use the routine with a relevant object (such as an artwork, image, artifact, chart, video, etc.) at the beginning of a new unit to motivate student interest, or try it with an object that connects to a topic during the unit of study. Consider using the routine with an interesting object near the end of a unit to encourage students to further apply their knowledge and ideas.

## Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?

Once you present the object to your students, give them time to observe it. It may be useful to explain that they are first going to describe exactly what they see, not what they think they see. In the second step when students describe what they think about what they’re seeing, you could ask them follow-up questions like, “What else is going on here?” or “What do you see that makes you say that?” These questions help move students away from giving unsupported opinions encouraging them instead to use evidence to explain their thoughts. In the third step, help students articulate what they are wondering by asking them what questions remain for them.

The routine generally works well in a group discussion. You may want to document the students’ responses and post them in a place where all students can see them to encourage future consideration. When doing this as a group, you may want to ask students to try the routine quietly on their own first (perhaps documenting their own thinking in writing) before discussing in a group.

Poster with the three questions: See think wonder (PDF, 280 kb)

This thinking routine was developed as part of the Visible Thinking
project at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Explore more Thinking Routines at pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines

## Clothespin Airplane Valentines

Use the clothespin to hold onto a little paper heart with a message.

### Supplies Needed

• Clothespins – the type the open with a spring
• Popsicle sticks – 2 per plane
• Mini popsicle sticks – 2 per plate
• Corrugated cardboard
• Glue – we used hot glue
• Acrylic paint and brushes
• Scissors
• Construction paper
• (Magnet)

### Step 1: Assemble your pieces.

For each plane, you’ll need two popsicle sticks, one clothespin, and one mini popsicle stick.

Cut cardboard segments for the struts between the wings of the bi-plane. Make the cardboards segments just tall enough that the top wing will sit ABOVE the clothespin and not attached to it. That will allow you to still operate the clothespin to insert the paper heart.

Cut a segment of a popsicle stick to be a tail. NOTE – the photo shows the popsicle stick cut straight across, but if you cut the tail at an angle, it looks better.

### Step 2: Assemble the plane with hot glue.

We found that it was easier to glue the plane together first before painting. That way, you can cover any sloppy glue areas with paint.

*Don’t glue the popsicle stick wing to the top of the clothespin, or the clothespin won’t open. Glue it to the cardboard struts.

### Step 3: Paint your plane!

We used acrylic paint, and I really think that’s the best option. Just make sure to cover up clothes, etc. when working with acrylic because it won’t wash out.

### Step 4: Cut out a heart from construction paper and write a cheerful message!

Also, another idea – it might be fun to add a magnet to the belly of the plane and put it on the refrigerator!

Thanks to FrugalFun4Boys for the idea!