STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities involve kids in exploration, inquiry, observation, making predictions, testing predictions, and formulating solutions to problems. Early exposure to STEAM activities will nurture the inquisitive nature inherent in children to support higher level thinking skills! Gather your Wikki Stix for a fun outdoor STEAM activity that explores the force of gravity with Wikki parachute men!

## Wikki Stix Parachute Men STEAM Challenge

Parachute Men STEAM Design Challenge Objectives: To encourage children to use creativity and critical thinking skills to design, make predictions, and test the predictions to observe outcomes.

Parachute Men STEAM Design Challenge Inquiry: Can the kids construct a parachute man that will fly using just Wikki Stix, a hole punch, scissors, and a paper towel? Skills presented in this design challenge are:

• Estimation
• Same/Different
• Fine Motor
• Predictions
• Gross Motor
• Number concepts
• Shape Relationships
• Sensory (Tactile and Visual)
• Connections between familiar and new knowledge
• Creative Expression
• Inquiry and Problem Solving

Materials needed:

• Wikki Stix
• Scissors
• Paper Towels (cut into squares for the parachute) Hint: Bounty (or similar brand) paper towels are more durable for this challenge. OR, use coffee filters… which work better!
• Hole Punch

Invite the children to create by placing all supplies out on a large tray or table.

In previous programs, the kids tried various designs for their parachutes. Some of the kids wrapped Wikki Stix around the corners of the paper towel (or coffee filters) to create the parachute. Other children chose to hole-punch the corners and thread Wikki Stix through the holes. The created Wikki Stix parachute men were various colors, shapes, and sizes. The design of the Wikki Stix men became important as the children made decisions about how to attach the parachute to the body of the created man!

## GRAVITY and LEARNING EXPLORATIONS

Explain to the children that GRAVITY is the force that keeps people grounded on the Earth instead of floating out into space. Gravity on Earth also dictates that when an object goes into the air, it will eventually come back down to the ground.

Ask the children to predict what will happen to the Wikki Stix parachute men after they are tossed in the air (the Earth’s gravity will cause the created parachute men to fall back to the ground)!

To test the predictions, have the children run and toss the created parachute men into the air and see what happens. Were the children correct in their predictions? Without the Earth’s gravity, the parachute men would fly off into space instead of falling back to the ground!

To document the challenge explorations, invite the children to use digital cameras to capture the parachute men in flight! The children will have fun photographing each other, but they are gaining use of technology skills to provide evidence of learning.

The Wikki Stix parachute men design challenge is a great way to get kids moving, creating, and playing while encouraging them to develop higher level skills for inquiry and problem solving!

For more STEM and STEAM Activities with Wikki Stix, please visit:

Beyond Memorization: Activities to Promote Critical Thinking with Wikki Stix

Open-Ended Engineering in Early Childhood

SHAPES! A STEM Building Challenge for Kids!