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This STEM measurement activity gets children designing their own Javelin and then measuring how far they can throw it.

This STEM measurement activity gets children designing their own Javelin and then measuring how far they can throw it. 

This summer has been hard on us. It has been difficult keeping them off of electronics and keeping attitudes in check. I’m finding that I have to be very creative in finding fun activities that will keep my boys engaged. Knowing of their love of anything sports related, I decided to try out a STEM measurement activity with a sport that they have seen in the Olympics.

Javelin Videos

Before, we got started I refreshed their memory regarding what javelins are.

We began by watching this short youtube video of some top javelin throws. I pointed out the distance thrown (we found out the record is over 90 meters), and we made note of how the athletes couldn’t cross the line. After the video was over, and it was watched one more time we moved onto the following steps.

Prep-Work

Before you get started, here are a few things you need:

  • meter stick
  • paper towel rolls – or you could see what your children come up with
  • items to add some weight to paper towel holders
  • scotch tape

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A Little Science

I started off by showing them a crumpled up piece of paper and a flat sheet of paper. I asked them which item I could throw the farthest. They made their predictions, and we tested it out. They really weren’t surprised to see that the crumpled paper went much farther.

Next, we briefly discussed density (here is a great science experiment if your kiddos show interest and want to go further), and then we tried to throw a paper towel holder. It didn’t go very far, and so I threw out the question. How do you think we can make it go further?

Once they had some ideas, we moved unto the engineering stage.

Creating a Javelin

I told them they had a goal to make their javelin fly the furthest, and then I literally let them at it. After handing them two paper towel holders, I walked away to do dishes. I tend to help more than I should, so I wanted to try to step out of the room to see what they could figure out on his own.

When I pocked my head in a short time later I found that my youngest was adding a superman figure to his javelin, while my second grader had decided to add crayons to his.

Each one of them tested out their javelins in my living room…….. thankfully everything is still intact…… and then headed back to the table to make some more adjustments.

My first grader figured out that he needed to put paper and tape at the end of his javelin to keep all his objects in, and my second grader had to strengthen where his tubes met.

I loved seeing them go back to the table and not give up when it didn’t work the first time.

Math Time

I wanted my little ones to have a good understanding of how far 90 meters is, so before we threw our javelins we measured out 90 meters. Most children don’t have a good understanding of distances, so any chance we can to give them to measure and play with distances, the better off they are. We were all quite shocked at how far it actually was.

Outdoor Learning At Its Best

Now is the best part..the throwing part! What child doesn’t enjoy seeing how far they can throw an object, especially an object that they made. I loved that without me even mentioning it they had to have a running start. Over and over they threw their handcrafted javelins, trying different stances and different holds to see if they could get their creation to fly the furthest. Even the twins had to participate in the fun.

After playing for awhile I declared practice time over, and that the games had begun.

STEM Measurement Time

Now that we were officially in competition mode, they got down to business. Each of my little men took turn launching their Javelin across the yard.

After each launch, they measured how far they were able to get it. After the fourth throw we added up them up, and the child that had the largest total won. If your children are a little older, you could always find the mean. All they would have to do is add up the four throws and then divide by four. The person with the highest mean would win.

I won’t tell you whose did best though. You give it a try and see which design works best for you and your kiddos.

You’ve Got This

Rachel

Since summer is long I will continually be on a search for other outdoor activities we can do, just like this fun one for learning while in a garden. 

Or get other Outdoor Learning Ideas HERE

Get other Olympic themed activities here!

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