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Investigate a Twirling Toy--Flinn STEM Design Challenge™

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Observe factors such as spin, flight trajectory, stability, and descent time.


Capture student interest in science and engineering practices through a simple yet engaging toy! This twirling toy, also known as a paper helicopter or whirligig, is both easy to construct and offers students of all levels a chance to explore variables influencing its motion. In the initial activity, students encounter three distinct spinning toy models. Through experimentation, they collect data and observe factors such as spin, flight trajectory, stability, and descent time for each model.

Subsequently, students select variables to investigate with each model and continue recording data and observations. Following this, a design challenge is introduced, outlining specific criteria and constraints. Drawing from the evidence gathered, students refine their design solutions and craft their own spinning toy to meet the challenge. This activity serves as an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding of scientific inquiry and engineering design processes. Suitable for 30 students working in pairs.

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