December 13

Save the Gingerbread Cookie!

The best teaching happens when you weave science into other subject areas and you ask your students to solve a real problem. Kindergarten engineers applied their knowledge of sink and float to construct boats to help the gingerbread cookie cross the river safely. Click here to review the folktale of the Gingerbread Man.

Before they began work, we hypothesized what might happen to a cookie if we placed it in water. The ginger snap we tested broke into pieces and almost disappeared in the water which helped us understand why the cookie needed to stay out of the water.  Many scientists wanted to taste the cookie water! Make cookie water at home. Do all cookies fall apart in the water? What if you tried a different liquid?

Did you know if you crumble aluminum foil above water, it will float, but if you crumble it under the water, it will sink? Why? We shared our ideas.

We looked at boats to see what was similar about their designs. This was a hard task. They wanted to tell me how they differed, rather than common attributes.

If they were successful keeping a paper gingerbread cookie dry, then we tested to see if their boats could hold the heavier gingerbread cookie. Click here  and here for more information about constructing boats with young engineers. Through this activity, we discovered that the shape of an object impacts how well an object floats. Aluminum foil, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and straws were available for their use. They employed the Design Process (Define the Problem, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, Improve) naturally as they worked.

I encouraged these young engineers to construct boats at home for Lego characters or plastic animals and to try different designs and materials. A great bathtub activity!