The Physics Mystery Bag Challenge

What in the world can you do on the day before Spring Break in Physics class with a bunch of senior boys who just want to be done with school?  (To be fair, I have girls in the class too, but they are much more willing to sit down and listen, even on the day before Spring Break!)

I searched pinterest and websites and came across this website Mystery Bag Challenge.  I felt like I could adapt this idea to fit my class.

I used the idea from the blog I mentioned and decided to try the Pom Pom Challenge.  I liked this activity because I already had most of the materials on hand - I just had to buy the pom poms.

The students entered the classroom and saw the Mystery Bags and immediately wanted them - they figured that there were Easter treats inside :)

Once everyone got to class, I divided the class into groups and showed them what was in the bag.  (All of the bags had the same materials):

The task at hand:  Build a pom pom launcher that can launch the pom pom as far as possible.  The group that launches it the farthest wins.  (I didn't need to offer any prize other than WINNING - did I mention I have a bunch of competitive students?)

The students got right to it and started to think up ideas.  As we went along I had to make a couple of rules…you had to actually build something, you couldn't just use a straw that was provided and make something that resembled a pea shooter.  Also, I had to make the rule that the pom poms could not be modified (students want to roll them in tape or attach one to a popsicle stick and launch that).

Here are some pictures of the students in process:

And a picture of a group that decided they didn't need all their supplies and were raising the white flag :)

There were a couple of really good efforts!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this activity!  I am trying to think of some more Mystery Physics in a bag, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them :)

Have a great Spring Break,

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