May the Fourth Be With You STEM Activities

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Actually, this is for you, right now!

It is a time of great opportunity to challenge kids to think critically and teach them the skills required for their future careers! STEM activities are interdisciplinary and project based which makes them exceptionally easy to include in holiday festivities. May the 4th (Star Wars Day) is no exception! Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not, the following activities are an exciting way to enhance STEM concepts and tie in the movies that have traversed the generations. May the 4th be with you!

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Fathier Marionette

In Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, we were introduced to the beloved fathier creatures that are also known as “space horses”. These large animals were raced as a sport and we are told they could achieve speeds of up to 75 kilometers per hour (46.6 mph). Create one of these noble beasts and discuss forces and motion too! No, not THE force. Discuss tension force that allows you to work a marionette and make it do what you intend it to do. Draw a free body diagram of all of the forces acting on your puppet and if one part has more freedom to move than you wish, design a way to fix it. Here is how to make your own fathier marionette:

You will need:

  • Cardboard tube

  • Felt

  • Bead necklace or string

  • Thread or fishing line

  • 3 Craft sticks

  • Pom poms

  • Googly eyes

  • Hot glue

  • Pipecleaner

Directions:

  1. Wrap the cardboard tube in felt. Hot glue it on and cut off any excess.

  2. Glue short lengths of beaded necklace or string to the inside of the cardboard tube in 5 places that will connect to the head and feet.

  3. Glue a rounded triangle piece of felt onto a large pom pom to make the ears and head.

  4. Cut a tear-drop shape of felt to make the nose and mouth. Draw the mouth and nostrils on the felt teardrop then glue it onto the pom pom to make the face.

  5. Glue the googly eyes in place and glue the head onto the “neck” piece of string or necklace.

  6. Glue pom poms onto each of the four leg strings.

  7. Glue on a short piece of pipecleaner for the tail.

  8. Line up a craft stick with the toilet paper tube such that it is even with the back end of the fathier cardboard tube. Glue another craft stick on top even with the back end of the fathier and perpendicular to the first craft stick.

  9. Glue the 3rd craft stick onto the first one even with the head end of the cardboard tube.

  10. Suspend your craft sticks off the edge of a table or counter with one of the ends of both the 2nd and 3rd craft sticks under something heavy so it wont fall off.

  11. Tie strings around the middle of the 1st craft stick, above the head at the end of the 1st craft stick, and at both ends of the 2nd and 3rd craft sticks - you will have to flip the sides of the sticks that are under the heavy object to add all of the strings.

  12. Make the strings longer than you think they are needed. Hot glue the head, body, and four legs onto the 6 strings so that the head is elevated above the body, the body is level, and all four legs are hanging completely straight. Now make your fathier walk!

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May the Fourth Be With You Paper Circuit Card

Make a greeting card with a light saber that really lights up! We use this activity during our STEM Family Nights too! Paper circuits are a fun way to teach circuits and conductivity. Students use the easy-to-follow diagrams to create their own card that will light up! Materials needed include: paper, copper tape, LED lights, coin batteries, and clear tape. Students can also use markers or crayons to decorate the card. We created a freebie with activity instructions including 2 card templates in both English and Spanish. Check it out in our Vivify Resources page. You will need to sign up for our newsletter to get the password to access this free resource and our growing list of other free material.


Make Your Own Movie with Stop Motion Animation

Stop Motion Animation is a great fusion of technology, critical thinking, and STEM themes. Set up a scene and use your own drawings, Legos, or Star Wars figurines to act out your favorite movie scenes or your own version of the saga. To create the videos, use iPads, Kindles, or Chromebooks along with a blank backdrop such as trifold boards. We love using Stikbots to do stop motion animation. The app is free and you can use their positionable figures to move in vivid backgrounds that include multiple space scenes. For a freebie of instructions to use stop motion animation in your classroom or for a STEM Family Night plus 3 STEM story lines, head to our Vivify Resources page.

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Spaceship Battle using Magnets

Grab a shoebox, paperclips, and two strong magnets and you have the beginnings of an epic battle. Discuss how magnets work and demonstrate the invisible magnetic force a magnet has on an object even when they cannot touch. To build this magnetic space ship battle:

  1. Take a shoebox or small box turned on its side.

  2. Cover the inside with black paper and add star stickers if desired.

  3. Tie a string to a paperclip and tape the end of the string to the floor side inside the box such that the paperclip cannot quite reach the opposite side (top) of the inside of the box.

  4. Do this again, spreading the strings about 1/3 the width of the box apart.

  5. Make sure the magnet is strong enough to hold the paperclip in the air when placed on top of the box above the paperclip.

  6. Attach paper spaceships to each paperclip.

  7. Now compete by sliding the spaceships towards each other. The first spaceship to drop by either going beyond the reach of their magnet or by being knocked down by the opposing ship loses! Just so you know, my Millennium Falcon won every time! ;)

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Sphero R2-D2 Robot

If you have followed us for a while, you know that we love Sphero robots! The variety of capabilities and difficulty levels makes these robots a perfect fit for the widest range of ages we have seen in a robot toy. There is even a compilation of free educational activities to use the Sphero robots in the classroom or at home to practice programming using the Sphero Edu App! The Sphero R2-D2 robot has all of the programming capabilities of the other bots in the Sphero line and more! The “Watch With Me” app allows you to watch any of the Star Wars films with the R2-D2 robot in the room and it will react to events in the movie with animations and sounds! While this is just an added perk to having a Star Wars themed robot, the educational applications are just as robust as the other Sphero bots. To read our list of activities to do with Sphero robots, check out our blog post here. Or for our review of the Sphero Bolt robot, go here. We also have a freebie Sphero robot activity located in our Vivify Resources page.


Nest Engineering Challenge

The irresistibly adorable porgs are probably my favorite Star Wars creature. No one can resist those huge innocent looking eyes. What if you hear that they are endangered and if you cannot help them protect their eggs, they will cease to exist? We are setting the stage to walk through the engineering design process with my students using the Bird Nest Challenge. In this challenge students must design and build a nest to safely catch a falling egg. A follow-up activity teaches biomimicry by relating what was learned in building a bird nest and applying it to designing a landing pad for a space capsule. Perfect for Star Wars day, right? This activity comes with full teacher instructions and student worksheets. Find the Bird Nest STEM Challenge here.


Let us know how you plan to be one with the force on this year’s May the 4th Star Wars Day celebration!

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