Alternate Activity 2: Wind-Powered Penny Races
Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Pennies (one per participant)
- Drinking straws
- Construction paper, lightweight cardboard, or manila folders
- Scissors, including left-handed scissors
- Clean, recyclable objects such as plastic yogurt lids, aluminum or tin cans, etc.
Preparation for Activity
- Make sure you have a clear table top or open floor space to use as a "racetrack."
- Set out materials where everyone can reach them.
Description of Activity
Participants explore the power of wind, a renewable energy resource which doesn't contribute to climate change, and use creativity to devise ways to harness non-polluting air power to move a penny across a table.
If the group is large enough, form teams. Encourage the children to exchange ideas and work together to design their wind-powered penny transport device. Show them the materials you have gathered and tell them their device can be powered only by their breath.
When everyone has completed their construction, have races to see who can get their penny across the table the fastest.
After the races, ask participants to reflect on the process:
- Were the simplest designs most effective, or did a complicated device work best?
- Did seeing another person's design inspire new ideas for you? What helped you to come up with new and creative ideas?
- Were there ideas you wanted to try, but you didn't have the materials or other technology to make them work? Did the limits of the materials that were available force you to be more creative?
- Can you think of real-world examples you've heard of where people have used limited resources to come up with helpful, creative products?