The Great Parachute-a-thon

Last week, after we came back from the Great Fall Shopping event, the kids got together scraps of stuff (or, what I call ‘junk’) and decided to see who could engineer the best parachute for some of The Naturalist’s mini horses.

I’m used to my daughter coming up with experiments like this, but The Golfer had yet to feel comfortable designing something for himself.  He gets very easily frustrated trying to get something from his mind out onto paper, or into words. The Naturalist and Golfer actually make a good team…he gives a ‘big picture’ idea of what’s in his mind, and she implements it…adding her own touches.

But I was surprised to see him really stepping up to this challenge, and designing his own parachute every step of the way. He basically taped two pieces of contruction paper together (but “big paper, Mom, not little regular paper!”) and then taped the horse onto the bottom using some of my yarn*.

The Naturalist initially designed a very NASA looking parachute out of coffee filters and yarn*:

And then wanted to try out another creation using cardboard:

Then they went up to our landing and released them to see which one took longest to fall. That one was deemed the winner. Can you guess which one won?

The Golfer’s!!!

And then, the fun part was all the tinkering around they did make them better, lighter, ‘more aerodynamical’ as they put it. Watching the evolution of the parachutes and the critical thinking skills involved–the link is to the way this might have been taught in a classroom somewhere out there–has been great for me, and helps quell the feelings of  “They aren’t learning unless they fill out this worksheet right now!!!!”. They were having exciting, scientific discussions while in the midst of having a great afternoon of fun.

***my stash of knitting yarn has been commandeered by the kids to be used in ways other than knitting. And so, since I have 938475938475 things on my plate, I’ve given my carefully collected yarn stash over to the cause of unschooling.