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techdirections August 2013 : Page 17

A Peer-Reviewed Article Kick Off the School Year with Molded Football Activity By Edward J. Lazaros and Cassandra Bormann ejlazaros@bsu.edu; cbormann3@bsu.edu I has committed to keeping the United States competitive with other na-tions with regard to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math-ematics) fields, using a campaign called Educate to Innovate. STEM is promoted through the use of collabo-ration between businesses, educa-tion, and the government (DeJarnette, 2012, p. 83). Tools and Materials We may need to do even more to promote STEM in Large disposable cardboard box schools. According to Duff Large plastic trash bag (2012), “many students Large bucket do not know the meaning Stirring stick (paint stirrer or similar item) of the acronym STEM, let Football alone its academic value” Part A of high-density polystyrene (p. 27). Part B of high-density polystyrene According to Wieman Urethane release spray (2012), “Science, technol-Plaster of paris ogy, engineering, and Aluminum foil mathematics (STEM) Measuring cups education is critical to the U.S. future because of its relevance to the economy and coming the first nation to launch a the need for a citizenry able to make mission in which a human being set wise decisions on issues faced by foot on the moon. The space race modern society” (p. 25). Given the prompted the U.S. government to importance of STEM, providing stu-invest large amounts of money in sci-dents with early exposure to it is a ence and technology education. prudent course of action. According Today, President Barack Obama to DeJarnette (2012), “The oppor-tunity for America to achieve high-Edward J. Lazaros is an assistant ranking status in STEM disciplines in professor of technology and coordi-the world markets lies in the hands nator of the online Master of Arts in of our youth” (p. 83). career and technical education, and A goal in STEM education should Cassandra Bormann is a researcher, be to make sure that students can Department of Technology, Ball State relate what they are learning to what University, Muncie, IN. N 1957, Russia was the first nation to successfully launch a spacecraft ( Sputnik 1 ) that traveled beyond Earth’s atmo-sphere and into outer space. The event triggered the space race, in which the United States ultimately prevailed over the Russians by be-working engineers and scientists do. During the learning process, students should be exposed to decision mak-ing and problem-solving strategies (Wieman, 2012, p. 26). They will prac-tice these skills and acquire good experience with design in the activity described here, in which they will mold Styrofoam footballs. Hands-on activities benefit from being both fun and flexible (Barak, 2009, p.305). The football molding ac-tivity fits that description. Referenc-ing STEM, the activity uses science in observing the reaction between the parts that make Styrofoam, technol-ogy to make the mold, engineering in the process of experimenting, and math in the calculations and collec-tion of data. Procedure 1. Line the cardboard box with the plastic trash bag (Photo 1). Next, the Photo 1 www.techdirections.com PLASTICS 17

Kick Off the School Year with Molded Football Activity

Edward J. Lazaros & Cassandra Bormann

<br /> A Peer-Reviewed Article<br /> <br /> IN 1957, Russia was the first nation to successfully launch a spacecraft (Sputnik 1) that traveled beyond Earth’s atmosphere and into outer space. The event triggered the space race, in which the United States ultimately prevailed over the Russians by becoming the first nation to launch a mission in which a human being set foot on the moon. The space race prompted the U.S. government to invest large amounts of money in science and technology education.<br /> <br /> Today, President Barack Obama has committed to keeping the United States competitive with other nations with regard to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, using a campaign called Educate to Innovate. STEM is promoted through the use of collaboration between businesses, education, and the government (DeJarnette, 2012, p. 83). We may need to do even more to promote STEM in schools. According to Duff (2012), “many students do not know the meaning of the acronym STEM, let alone its academic value” (p. 27).<br /> <br /> According to Wieman (2012), “Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical to the U.S. future because of its relevance to the economy and the need for a citizenry able to make wise decisions on issues faced by modern society” (p. 25). Given the importance of STEM, providing students with early exposure to it is a prudent course of action. According to DeJarnette (2012), “The opportunity for America to achieve highranking status in STEM disciplines in the world markets lies in the hands of our youth” (p. 83).<br /> <br /> A goal in STEM education should be to make sure that students can relate what they are learning to what working engineers and scientists do. During the learning process, students should be exposed to decision making and problem-solving strategies (Wieman, 2012, p. 26). They will practice these skills and acquire good experience with design in the activity described here, in which they will mold Styrofoam footballs.<br /> <br /> Hands-on activities benefit from being both fun and flexible (Barak, 2009, p.305). The football molding activity fits that description. Referencing STEM, the activity uses science in observing the reaction between the parts that make Styrofoam, technology to make the mold, engineering in the process of experimenting, and math in the calculations and collection of data.<br /> <br /> Procedure<br /> 1. Line the cardboard box with the plastic trash bag (Photo 1). Next, the instructor will spray the football with urethane release spray.<br /> <br /> Note that for reasons of health and safety, inhaling the urethane release spray should be avoided.<br /> <br /> 2. Pour half of the plaster of paris into the bucket (Photo 2). Add water to the plaster according to the instructions on the plaster of paris packaging and stir.<br /> 3. Pour a small amount of the plaster into the lined box so it covers the bottom. Place the football in the box, then pour additional plaster, making sure that the plaster only covers half of the football (Photo 3). Let the plaster dry and harden overnight.<br /> 4. Cover the hardened plaster with aluminum foil to form a barrier between the halves of the mold (Photo 4).<br /> 5. Mix the other half of the plaster of paris and cover the football with plaster. Let dry and cure for several days.<br /> 6. When the plaster is dry on the top, cut the excess plastic away from the box. Cut away both the box and the plastic that houses the plaster (Photo 5). Let the plaster finish drying and curing for approximately one week.<br /> 7. Once the plaster has set and dried, separate the two halves of the mold (Photo 6). Remove the aluminum foil that is between the halves of the mold.<br /> 8. Have the instructor spray both halves of the mold with urethane release spray. Avoid breathing the spray. (In areas that lack adequate ventilation, a mask should be worn for safety.)<br /> 9. Pour equal amounts of parts A and B of the high-density polystyrene into separate measuring cups. An NFL league-size football will take six to seven ounces of each part (Photo 7).<br /> 10. Pour parts A and B into the bottom half of the mold at the same time (Photo 8). Stir the parts together until a reaction occurs. The reaction starts when the liquid begins to bubble and expand (Photo 9). Note that the liquid parts are quite sticky, especially after they are mixed together— avoid getting it on your skin.<br /> 11. Put the top half of the mold on top of the bottom half (Photo 10). If the polystyrene starts to expand out of the sides of the mold, put paper down for easier cleanup (Photo 11).<br /> 12. After the polystyrene is dry and has hardened (about five minutes), take the top mold off (Photo 12). Cut away the excess polystyrene and lift the newly created football away from the bottom mold (Photo 13).<br /> 13. Repeat Steps 9 through 12 as needed to make additional footballs.<br /> <br /> Final Thoughts<br /> This activity is a good and enjoyable way to engage students in a STEM activity. To increase mathematics practice, students could document amounts of part A and part B needed to make the football. For integration with another field, students could decorate the footballs in art class, then display them in the classroom. <br /> <br /> Tools and Materials<br /> <br /> Large disposable cardboard box<br /> Large plastic trash bag<br /> Large bucket<br /> Stirring stick (paint stirrer or similar item)<br /> Football<br /> Part A of high-density polystyrene<br /> Part B of high-density polystyrene<br /> Urethane release spray<br /> Plaster of paris<br /> Aluminum foil<br /> Measuring cups<br /> <br /> References<br /> Barak, M., & Zadok, Y. (2009).<br /> Robotics projects and learning concepts in science, technology, and problem solving. International Journal of Technology & Design Education, 19 (3), 289-307.<br /> <br /> DeJarnette, N. K. (2012).<br /> America’s children: Providing early exposure to STEM (science technology, engineering, mathematics) initiatives. Education, 133 (1), 77-84.<br /> <br /> Duff, M. (2012). 10 steps to creating a cutting-edge STEM school library. Young Adult Library Services, 10 (2), 24-28.<br /> <br /> Wieman, C. (2012). Applying new research to improve science education. Issues in Science & Technology, 29 (1), 25-32.<br /> <br /> Edward J. Lazaros is an assistant professor of technology and coordinator of the online Master of Arts in career and technical education, and Cassandra Bormann is a researcher, Department of Technology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN.

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