Jack and the Beanstalk, STEAM Style

We all know the story about Jack and the Beanstalk… but did you know that Jack had to find a quicker way to get back home from the Giant’s house in the sky? Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM), we are going to take you on a journey of the process we took to solve Jack’s problem.

Our problem…

How, oh how, can we help Jack (AKA a Lego man) get back home QUICKLY?

We Imagined

We brainstormed ideas to solve this problem. A parachute may solve our problem! Our class viewed people carrying out death-defying stunts using parachutes. We discovered the science of parachutes, learning that when a parachute is being used, air resistance and gravity are working at the same time. Air resistance increases when the parachute is opened and this is what causes the parachute to slow its descent to Earth. Could we build Jack a parachute? What kind of parachute could we build? What does a parachute need? What materials do we have?

We Planned, Designed and Built

Jack, our Lego man, was first going to fall from the balcony without a parachute. This was our “control” drop. The parachutes we designed had to make sure that Jack took longer than this to land when he wore our amazing parachutes. Using plastic, wire, string, sticky tape, Blu Tack and many other items, we set about making the parachute. Check out the photos of us doing this!

We Tested

Outside on the verandah, Jack was dropped many times, wearing many different parachutes! Amazingly, every group managed to design and make a parachute that did indeed slow Jack’s fall to Earth.

Now we are in the process of discussing and modifying our designs to see if there are ways to improve our creations. This problem is the first of many we will aim to solve this year. Sometimes there will be disasters, solutions that fail and problems we encounter. However, we will be building resilience, problem solving, using creativity, listening to our team members, trying new materials and developing and discovering new skills along the way!

Comments from the Students

“My group’s parachute was made up of a bag so that it could fill up with air. I learnt to make Jack go down slower, we had to make the air resistance more powerful than the gravity” – Jemima 

“When we were making our parachute, we had to collect the materials that we needed. We timed how long Jack took to float down from the balcony. In my group, Jack took 1.7 seconds. The winning group had the slowest time, which was 3.2 seconds” – Elijah

“I enjoyed working together as a group. I learnt to keep a parachute up in the air. We had to make it light by using a plastic bag”– Jeremy S

“I liked making a parachute because it looked like a real parachute. It was made out of a plastic bag, a paper plate, feathers, pipe cleaners and string”– Lucas

“I had never made a parachute before, so I found it very interesting. My group dropped the parachute down from the balcony and I got to catch it. I liked to see it floating down”– Audrey

“We learnt about gravity and how not everything drops straight down to the ground, it can also float down. I enjoyed testing our parachute and competing with other groups”– Ayo

“We used a gigantic plastic bag, pipe cleaners, wire. We taped the pipe cleaners to the bag and connected the wire to the pipe cleaners as a strap for Jack. I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s parachutes”– Kate

“I learnt that the bigger the dome, the more air is held and the slower it goes. Making parachutes made me want to go indoor skydiving one day! I really enjoyed testing all the parachutes”– Jeremy L

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