Sunday, January 16, 2011

Physics and Biology: Newspaper Skyscraper

This week the kids were challenged to build a skyscraper out of newspaper and tape. The question was: how do you use such a flimsy material to build something that is both tall and able to withstand powerful winds. Through trial and error the kids learned that they could increase the strength of the newspaper by rolling or folding it in different ways as well as that building a wider/heavier base makes the tower more stable.

Afterward the kids evaluated each tower by measuring its weight, height, and stability in the face of a powerful blow dryer. One of the things we observed was that different designs privileged one characteristic at the expense of another. A building that was particularly stable was also quite short. In Biology, we noted that this is characteristic of the natural world as well. An organism may have traits that make it well-adapted to one environment, while poorly adapted to another. We will revisit these concepts later this year when we cover evolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment