Santa Claus has always been able to count on his reindeer to help him visit children around the world, but this year, he got a little help from first-grade students at Schultz Elementary School in Delaware, who spent their last day of school Friday designing parachutes just in case.
First-grade teacher Michael Troutman said the assignment was a good way to teach students about gravity, parachutes, and a good way to keep them focused on their last day.
“For the last couple of days, all they’ve talked about is Santa,” Troutman said. “So, I searched for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) projects related to Santa.”
Troutman explained gravity and drag, and he gave students materials to build a parachute for a cardstock Santa Claus. Troutman said the supplies included coffee filters, string, two cups, tape and other materials.
“I know they really like these challenges involving science and all the outside thinking,” he said. “It helps students that might see reading and math as a struggle. They can enjoy this.”
Troutman added on top of learning about physics, the project encourages teamwork and other important skills.
“(One thing they’ll learn) is definitely teamwork and being able to share ideas and creativity,” he said. “It’s an activity that’s not only fun for them, but it’ll also hold their interest. It’s the last day of school before Christmas. All they can think of is Santa.”
Troutman said the activity is very beneficially to students and better than a traditional lesson or worksheet.
“True, valuable learning doesn’t happen on pen and paper,” he said. “When they grow up, they are going to have to do more than a worksheet. This is kind of bridging the gap to that part of their future.”
The students said they enjoyed the chance to help Santa, and their parachute designs varied between groups.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.