Hoop Glider Engineering can be a fun science activity for people of all ages. We provide these generalizations as guidelines about what children at different ages might do during Hoop Glider explorations at the Discovery Center’s Experiment Station, at home in your living room, or at school. Listed below are science and technology process skills that children may be practicing during their explorations. Please remember: each child develops at a different rate, so some children in each age group may be able to do some of the things described in the age group before or after their own.
Preschoolers are developing the abilities needed to assess their hoop glider designs, based on how far they fly on the test track. Preschoolers are starting to recognize numbers, and are curious about measuring. They know that they are weighed and measured at the doctor’s office, and they often know how tall they are.
Many preschoolers might enjoy lying down on the floor and measuring themselves on the “test track” to compare the length of their body to the distance their hoop glider can fly. This is also a great opportunity to talk with preschoolers about non-standard units of measurement, by using their own bodies as a unit of length:
Preschoolers can notice that differently shaped and sized gliders fly at different speeds, and take different flight paths.
Although “winning” is not as important to preschoolers as it is to older children, they can participate in “races” with other children to see which glider goes the farthest.
Preschoolers can set goals for what they would like their glider to do. However, they generally need help from a grownup to achieve their goals. Preschoolers can not always tell a grownup -who wants to help- what it is, exactly, that their glider is doing "wrong". Many preschoolers will need help from a grown up (or an older child) to make a glider that completely satisfies their desires.
Preschoolers show interest in what their peers are doing and making. They may make decisions about how to design their gliders based on the choices they see other children making.
Preschoolers can use scissors with greater mastery, and cut more intricate patterns, than toddlers can. Preschoolers can also be encouraged to use a more traditional (one-handed) grip on the scissors.
Some preschoolers can use paperclips on their own, especially after watching a grown-up demonstrate.