Science of Superheroes ~ Super-Human Strength

26 Jun

Today was the first of three “Science of Superheroes” programs we’re offering this summer with a STEM focus for children entering 2nd through 4th grades.  This program went very well for the 22 kids in attendance!  We began by brainstorming all the superheroes we could think of with super-human strength.  The kids had a lot of fun naming superheroes!  Then I asked them to think of animals that were really strong – lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, and hippos were the kids answers.  Finally, I asked them to think of a really small animal that is really strong.  And many answered – ANTS!

We talked about how strong ants are and I compared their strength to ours.  Some ants can lift 50x their own weight, which I compared to us and said that if you weighed 50 pounds, you’d be able to lift a hippopotamus or if you weighed 100 pounds, you’d be able to life an elephant.  The kids were suitably impressed.  We then talked a short time about spider silk and how scientests are researching spider silk to see if it can be used for parachute rope and bulletproof vests.  We talked briefuly about an awesome informational text titled, Stronger Than Steel: Spider Silk DNA and the Quest for Better Bulletproof Vests, Sutures and Parachute Rope by Bridget Heos.

Then we began doing some experiments – We started with the Strength Test, which you can find in this book on Google.  Basically it talks about force and the reason how it works.  The kids paired up and tried both tests and came up with some great conclusions.

Next, I gave the kids three pieces of paper, a few rubber bands and an Eyewitness book (we have a bunch of them in the library) and told them to use the supplies to balance the book.  While they worked in groups and pairs, I inivited each group up to the front to try lifting a heavy bucket of books first just using a rope and then using a rope over a rolling pin as a pulley.

Once every group got the chance to try the pulley, we talked about how their experimenting went and what they found.  Then I did an example at the front with just one piece of paper rolled up with one rubber band.  We were able to balance 5 Eyewitness Books on top of the paper before it crumpled!  Then we quickly talked about how the pulley worked and I mentioned simple machines and the reason they work so well.

Overall, the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and a few of the parents who stayed in the room seemed to have learned something too!  I love science programs like this where the kids can explore the concepts and come together to figure out the results.  I believe it can be a very powerful way to learn!


One Response to “Science of Superheroes ~ Super-Human Strength”


  1. Science of Superheroes ~ Flight | literacious - July 29, 2015

    […] of Superheroes programs this summer.  If you didn’t get a chance, check out my program on Super Human Strength!  It can be very intimidating trying to create a program based on science when I’m not the […]

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