Oct 23

Day 4 Pigeons and Parachutes. Building your own parachute STEM activity

Today was a great day in STEM club.  We started with pigeons and ended with parachutes and had a whole lot of laughter along the way!


The inspiration for the parachutes I cannot take credit for. Our head of Lower School came up with the book and our starting point.  It is pretty safe to say she shares my same appreciation for unconventional humor.  She suggested “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”  and I knew it was perfect!  I LOVE that pigeon and if there is a way to bring him to 3rd and 4th graders, then I am happy to share it!  Why should preschoolers only have the pigeon books?  Everyone needs a good pigeon story in their life.

Mo WIlliems created the most lovable character of the pigeon.  His humor is like none other and that is what makes his series of books so popular.  The pigeon (which is hysterical, no matter your age) wants to drive a bus in the worst way.  It is a book that kids finally can say no to.  (AND they do!)


At the end of the story, I changed it to have the pigeon dream of flying a parachute.   The girls task was to finally let the pigeon get his way and design a parachute for him.  They had to build it in the safest way possible and try and make their parachute the slowest to drop from a 3 story flight.


They were very invested in this task and immediately dove into work.  I was amazed  how the girls took different materials and immediately started testing them in the air.



Maddy had her own plan (she told me she loves to make parachutes and send them off her balcony at home). She used her past success and went right for the plastic grocery bag.


Margo used a tissue, Olivia used a coffee filter, and Elizabeth used a plate.

DSCN2217 DSCN2215

I even decided to join in on the fun an created one out of paper.  Mine looked like a paper jellyfish and it did not do well in my initial test run.  I knew my poor pigeon was in for one wild ride!


Once they were finished, we took them to the top of our 3 story bell tower and timed each pigeon’s adventure  to the ground.  The flights ranged from 6.5 seconds, with Maddy’s amazingly safe design, to 3.5 seconds (which was mine of course – yes the teachers was the WORST.  Boy did the girls LOVE that).


This lesson will continue next week.  After we let our parachutes drop a few times, we went back to add changes to make it better.  The girls will discuss what made the parachutes work the best and why.  We will also record and calculate the difference in our flights with the changes.  Our pigeons are safe for now, but the girls cannot wait to get their pigeons flying again!