Thanksgiving STEM Activities – Turkey Balloon Races

Wondering what to do with the kids this fall? Or maybe need something fun that the whole family can do during Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving STEM Activities are a great way to get everyone involved in learning and having fun during the holidays. Check out this incredibly fun Turkey Balloon Races Thanksgiving STEM Activity. It will have everyone laughing, learning and leaping for joy as they race their turkey!

TURKEY RACES – PHYSICS STEM ACTIVITY FOR THANKSGIVING

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Between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, this time of year is busy and kids feel it! They are often bursting at the seems with so much energy. It can be hard to get them focused and learning. So why not embrace that love of movement and get them running, laughing, creating, and learning physics?

I know, you are shaking your head. Did I just say physics? Yup! Balloon Races are an amazing way to introduce Newton’s Laws of Motion.

The Science of Balloon Races and our Thanksgiving STEM ACtivities

Letâ€™s take a quick minute and chat about the science behind balloon races. Physics can be a scary word, especially when you are talking about younger kids, but kids love learning this stuff! I always get a good giggle when my kids are doing something and say, “That’s physics!”. Simply by teaching physics in a fun, accessible way, you take the stress and fear out of the subject. Balloon races are perfect for this!

When you blow up the balloon you are filling it up with air that is under pressure. When the air escapes from the balloon the escaping air exerts thrust or force on the balloon which propels it forward. The air escapes backward â€“ the balloon races forward. Action â€“ reaction. Or more formally known as Newtonâ€™s Third Law of Motion.

NEWTONâ€™S THIRD LAW OF MOTION: FOR EVERY ACTION, THERE IS AN OPPOSITE AND EQUAL REACTION.

During our Turkey Races we played with physics by testing different directions of thrust. So what would happen if we held the balloon really straight before releasing it? What happens if we pull down on the Turkey tail a bit before releasing? What if we pulled it to the side? It was fun to see how it affected the travel of our Turkey down the line!

The kids could see physics in action and how the direction of the thrust altered the movement and travel patterns of our turkey. I didn’t need to say anything. The turkey taught them everything.

Supplies for Thanksgiving STEM – Turkey Races

Balloons in a turkey like colour, we used orange
Construction paper, feathers, and other crafting supplies to decorate your turkey
Glue
String
Straws – choose a plastic free alternative, just make sure it isn’t too thick, and it is a straw you don’t mind cutting up.
Tape
Scissors
Kitchen clips
Anchor points â€“ could be chairs, tables or even people holding the string

How to Run a Turkey Balloon Race

The first thing you need to do is blow up your balloon and use a clip to close off the end so the air doesn’t escape while you are decorating your balloon. I find it best to twist the end before adding the clip to make it really airtight.

Now decorate your balloon. We added tail feathers, googly eyes, and some crafting foam for the beak. We used a combination of glue and tape to decorate our Turkey. I was told that next time we needed long balloons like we used in our Cupid’s Arrow Races so our Turkey would have a long neck. Next time!

Set up your race course. To do this you need two anchor points. We used two chairs.

If your straw is a bendy straw, clip off the bendy part. Or if it is really long, cut it in half. You only need about 4 inches of length. Place the straw on a piece of string and tie it off on each of the anchor points. Pull the straw back to your starting point on your string (which ever anchor point you want to be the starting line), then tap your Turkey to the straw.

When you are ready to race, remove the clip while keeping the end firmly pinched in between your fingers to prevent air getting out.

Then on the count of three, let go!

Watch your Turkey race to the finish! At the end it will look very silly, eliciting even more giggles.

To reset, carefully blow your Turkey back up, pull it back to the start, and release again!

Try changing the direction of your thrust by releasing the balloon differently each time. Pull down a bit or to the side. At one point we had our Turkey spinning around like a top along our string as it raced along!

See Thanksgiving STEM Activities and physics can be so much fun for everyone! This would also make a fantastic Christmas STEM activity!