A STEM Christmas #2

As the end of the year approaches, here are 6 big ideas for combining maths, science, technology, engineering and a bit of art in December.
 
 

Spiced Drinks Fermentation

While Christmas in Australia is hot, not cold, we can still investigate fermentation of spiced drinks.

 
Research recipes for spiced fermented drinks that are enjoyed at Christmas time.
Investigate different factors that impact on the rate of fermentation e.g. of sugar using yeast to ethanol. Factors may include amount of sugar, amount of yeast, temperature of reaction mixture, type of yeast, type of sugar, source of sugar (different fruit juices).
 
Maths – collecting data and recording in a graph
Science – biochemistry of fermentation and yeast
Technology – possibly used to log and measure changes over time in fermentation
 

The Present Drop

How high up the chimney can Santa be to safely drop the presents without them breaking?

 
Let’s face it – it’s a rush to get all those presents delivered on Christmas Eve. See how high Santa can drop the presents from without them breaking. Design and engineer a present dropping device (rocket, insulated shell, parachute for example) to drop a delicate present (represented by an uncooked egg) from different height chimneys/balconies. How high can you drop the present before it breaks and what dropping devices work best?
 
Maths – measuring speed/time/distance and calculating speed at impact and force at impact using V=d/t and F=ma
Engineering – the design and construction of dropping devices
Science – understanding motion and forces, the use of parachutes and crumple zones, airbags and insulation in preventing crashes
 
 

Crystal Decorations

It’s Christmas tree decoration time, on a molecular level

 
Make up a saturated solution of salt and hot water in a beaker. Place a bent pipe cleaner (in a shape such as a star or a candy cane) in the beaker. Allow it to stand for several days as the salt crystals come out of solution and deposit over the pipe cleaner.
 
Science – crystal growing, concentration calculations
Community – sell the completed decorations in a stall to raise money for charity
 

Cooking Christmas Day Roast

How long should you cook the roast?

 
Investigate heat transfer in different cooking environments to see how long you should cook the roast on Christmas day. You could construct your own solar oven and see how hot it gets a fixed volume of water over a set time duration. Apply this to cooking a roast to see if you could successfully cook a roast in a solar oven.
 
Maths – measuring temperature, recording values over time and graphing
Science – heat transfer, radiation, solar energy
Engineering – design and construction of solar oven
Community – cook something in the oven and share it with the class!
 

Transporting summer mangoes for Christmas day

There’s nothing like the taste of a juicy mango on Christmas day.

 
Calculate the distance and time to get a mango from a farm in North of Australia to where you live. Prototype and construct the most efficiently sized box for safe transport of a (or many) mango(es).
 
Maths – distance, time measurements; volume and shape construction
Engineering – prototyping and construction of box
Technology – sensors (optional) to detect mango ripeness, safety, tracking of individual mangoes from farm to plate
Community – if the design is good, see if the prototype can be trialed by a mango company!
 

Gingerbread House construction

Yum! The spiced taste of gingerbread.

 
Design and prototype a gingerbread house, making most efficient and creative use of the dough.
 
Maths – modelling shapes, volume, area
Engineering – construction of house
 

Get Inspired

 
We’d love to hear from you if you explore A STEMy Christmas in your classes or at home. Merry Christmas!

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