The Huff and Puff STEM Lab

Community STEM is proud to introduce the “The Huff and Puff” STEM lab. Do you remember the story of “The Three Little Pigs”? Well the Big Bad Wolf had to practice his huffing and puffing every day before he met the pigs. In this STEM lab we will explore how he did this and what the implications are for us. It’s our pleasure to introduce Jessie Anderson, a DEN Star from Michigan, who will be introducing this lab from her classroom.

Click here for the video introduction!

Challenge: Can you blow a piece of popcorn into an “empty” 2 Liter bottle? Your challenge today is to place a little piece of popcorn on the lip of a 2 Litter bottle of pop (or soda) and as quickly as possible, blow it to the inside! You will be timing this to see who in your group can do it the fastest. Make sure you talk about the “science” of this.

Materials:

  • 2 Liter bottle of pop (“empty”)
  • 5-10 pieces of popcorn (not for eating)
  • stopwatches
  • little pieces of paper crumpled up (optional) mini marshmallows (optional).

Procedure: 

  • Your 2 Liter of pop should be drained of pop.
  • List out some observations about the bottle (example: clean, dirty, empty, dirty, clear, colored, etc.)
  • Nominate one person in your group to go first. After you place the piece of popcorn on the very edge (lip of the bottle), use a stopwatch to see how long it takes for them to blow the popcorn in there. If the popcorn hops out, place it right back at the lip and try again.
  • What happened on the first blow? How long did it take your first person to get the popcorn in the bottle? Allow the rest of your group members to see how long it takes them to get the popcorn in the bottle. Record their times, we may be sharing these to the class.
  • As you’ve probably experienced, most of the time, the popcorn flies OUT of the 2 Liter. Why do you think this happens? Feel free to draw a picture if that helps explain things.

Discussion questions:

  • What are some different things we could do to make it easy to get the popcorn to go in the bottle?
  • What are some “modifications” that we could make to the bottle?
  • What are the implications for us?
  • What things do we need to inflate for every day use?
  • How can we use this knowledge to solve a problem for a group of people in society?

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Have some fun with this! Share out your challenges on Twitter @discoveryed and #communitystem

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