STEM Activity: Holiday Zip Line
Give the reindeer a well-deserved break by helping to deliver presents from chimney to chimney on a DIY zip line! Follow these instructions to create your very own zip line in this fun and educational holiday STEM activity!
- Holiday image (such as a reindeer)
To create your zip line, cut a long piece of string and slide a straw onto it. Tie one end of the string to a secured object that is up high. Tie the other end of the string to a secure object that is much lower. The string should then be on an angle and stretched tight. Tape an uninflated balloon to the straw with the opening towards the higher end of the string. Print out an image of a reindeer and tape it to the balloon. Inflate the balloon to the size of a small cantaloupe, but do not tie it. Slide the straw with the balloon as far up on the string as possible. With a big “ho, ho, ho” release the inflated balloon and watch the reindeer zip through the air to deliver presents!
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
To bring this activity into the classroom, the same instructions apply. Split your classroom into small groups and have students use their desks and chairs to tie the string at an angle. Give each student their own balloon to attach when it is their turn to test. To keep the fun going, have students move their string to create new zip line routes!
What are we learning?
Zip lines work thanks to the force of gravity! The reindeer started at the highest point of the zip line. Once the force of air shooting out of the back end of the balloon propelled the reindeer and the balloon forward (Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction), inertia and gravity helped pull the reindeer down the length of the string at high speeds. For more zip line fun, hang binder clips on the string instead of using the straw and balloon. Experiment by attaching objects of different weights and shapes to the binder clips. Send them down the zip line to see how weight and center of gravity can change the speed and journey. Can you add anything to the zip line that would reduce friction (the force responsible for slowing the zipping objects as they rub against the string)?
Looking for more STEM activities?
Check out other holiday STEM activities on our blog or our Camp Invention Facebook page!