Lots of Bots


Ted Beyer, Educational Innovations, Inc.by Ted Beyer

Bots in a Name?

Brushbots, bristlebots, scooterbots, and any other cleverly named bots have been around for years.  You know—the toothbrush head (or something similar) paired with a tiny vibrating motor and a battery.  For years, classroom teachers and homeschool parents have been using them to introduce even young students to the principles of engineering and robotics.

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Building a Hovercraft Science Project


6769_100121036671012_100000193470961_521_4265928_nLook, Mom, No Wheels!  | Building a Hovercraft Science Project

by:  Norm Barstow

The first practical design of the hovercraft was completed in the late 1950’s by British engineer, Sir Christopher Cockerell.  Since then, the continued development of this invention has been ongoing, and currently, the hovercraft is being used commercially, by the military, and for personal use.  Teachers have been constructing versions of the hovercraft using balloons, film canisters and flat materials in classrooms for years.

The principle behind the hovercraft’s levitation is that when the air is released from the balloon, it hits the ground and rushes outward in all directions. The air flowing from the balloon through the holes forms a layer of air between the hovercraft and the table. This reduces the friction (the resistance that occurs when two object rub against each other) that would have existed if the hovercraft rested directly on the table. With less friction, your hovercraft scoots across the table.

Furthermore, extra air molecules are packed underneath the structure, which in turn increases the pressure under the hovercraft.  This increased pressure below the craft produces an overall upward pressure force on the craft therefore it supports its weight. Since air molecules are always leaking out from beneath the craft, you’ll need a source of air molecules to replace them, which is provided by the balloon.

Materials:Building a Hovercraft Science Project

·      Large plastic plate (not the inflexible type)
·      Foam meat tray from grocery store  (6.5” X 8.5”)
·      Old CD
·      Stiff cardboard

  • Poster putty such as Blue Tak, or Poster Tak
  • Smooth surface
  • Hole instrument: Ball point pen tip or hot nail or drill.

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Gro-Beast Alligators


Jill BrownBy : Jill Brown

Each year I purchase the Gro-Beast Alligators from Educational Innovations for my Fourth Grade class.  These growing alligators start at about three inches long and grow to over a foot long when placed in water!  From this one item, I have developed lesson plans that incorporate Math, Science, Reading, Social Studies, Writing, Technology, and Language Arts!Gro-Beast Alligator

Observation is the first action taken by learners to acquire new information about an organism; therefore, the first thing my students do is observe their polymer alligator.  The students in the picture below are in the process of measuring the length, weight, circumference, and area of their polymer alligators. Students in my class also trace their alligators on graph paper then they calculate the area of each and eventually compare the area of their small (dehydrated) alligator to that of their fully grown alligator. (Math & Writing & Language).  These measurements are compiled into a line graph for each student’s crocodile which aids students in making predictions about the rate of future growth of their growing reptile.  Read the rest of this entry »