Amazing Acorn Drop

By Brusic, Sharon A. | Technology and Children, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Amazing Acorn Drop


Brusic, Sharon A., Technology and Children


amazing acorn drop Book Gilson, J. (1983). 4B goes wild. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. [160 pages].

summary of book

Fourth graders at Central School in Illinois are rewarded for their good behavior by getting to participate in Outdoor Education at Camp Trotter in Wisconsin. But Hobie Hanson isn't too enthused about this fun treat. He worries about being away from home for three days and two nights. Hobie learns to deal with his homesickness while having a "wild" and fun time at Camp Trotter with his friends and teachers.

student introduction

Hobie and the other fourth graders participated in many fun outdoor activities at Camp Trotter. For example, they hiked, did gravestone rubbings, performed skits, and learned about bird banding. They even participated in some creative and challenging team-building activities. Have you ever been to an outdoor education or camp program? You can learn a lot of amazing things at these events and have a lot of fun while you do it, too.

Imagine that your class earned the Outdoor Education trip to Camp Trotter. As one of the team-building exercises, you are asked to use limited resources available at camp to solve this perplexing problem. Use your engineering skills to solve the challenge and have fun working with your fellow campers, too!

design brief

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Working with your team, design and make a device that will enable an acorn to travel from a starting position to a designated finish position in exactly 10 seconds. Once set into motion, the acorn and the device cannot be touched by human hands. The entire device must be constructed from the limited materials provided and fit within the space limits identified by the camp leader (your instructor).

teacher hints

1. Identify a start position as a certain distance off the ground or table surface (12-24'' works great). The ground or table surface should be the finish position. It is helpful if one of the materials that you give students is a piece of sturdy, corrugated cardboard that exceeds the height distance by at least a few inches. Instruct teams that they must keep their devices within a certain space. For example, you might tell them that their devices cannot exceed a 24'' cube. Have a cardboard box available that could be used to easily test that their device does not exceed the space.

2. The materials that you provide for this activity are important to the activity's success. In addition to the cardboard mentioned earlier, give each team a bag that contains a few acorns and the items they can use. Ideally, the provided materials should be typical things that might be found at a camp, including items that are easily glued and taped together that could support a rolling acorn. …

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