LEAP Frog: Integrated STEM Lesson

I know, I know.
Leap Day is today.
Kind of late for me to be sharing this.
But you have to understand...
My very BEST ideas come to me about 20 minutes before class starts. 
Literally.
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
So what happened was...
All the lower grades were planning fun Leap Day activities. 
I was jealous.
But I teach fifth grade STEM - a tested subject in a tested grade.
So I had to stick to my standards.

BUT...
Leap Day only comes around ONCE every FOUR YEARS!
If I didn't do something today, I would have to wait another four years.
Well, that wasn't gonna happen.



Today's Learning Target: I can collect data from an investigation involving the transformation of elastic potential energy to kinetic energy.
(Sounds pretty official, right?!?)
On to the activity.
The hardest part?
Folding the oragami frogs.

I really wanted the frogs to jump far. It's just so much more impressive to have leaping frogs on Leap Day. So I tried several sets of directions before settling on these. I admit, they are a bit complicated. There are simpler directions for a less detailed frog, but when have I EVER taken the simple route?
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
Anyway...
I guided students through the instructions of folding the paper frogs. It seemed to work well for me to demonstrate on the document camera and have them copy my folds. Each table group ended up with an "expert" who was able to help others. 

(If you'd like to grab some inexpensive oragami paper in lots of bright colors, here's a link to the item I bought. Origami Paper 500 Sheets Double-Sided.I just love Amazon Prime!)

Once we got them all folded, we discussed the variables and how to create a fair test. We decided that each person would "leap" their own frog, but everyone would help determine the distance. We also decided that each group would set up their test on top of the table so that the surface was the same (just in case that mattered).
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
I had students fill out a simple data table (which I made super quickly in Microsoft Word right before class) so they could have a way to organize their data. I also knew that valuable class time would be spent folding frogs, so I hoped that creating a data table ahead of time kind of made up for that. I added a few questions at the bottom of the page related to what we have been studying about gravitational forces too! 
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!

Each student had three chances to get their frog to leap the longest distance. We discussed how each person had made their folds slightly differently and not all of the frogs were carefully made. This affected how much potential energy was stored in each frog when we pressed on their backs. Not surprisingly, some frogs were more successful than others.
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
Students measured the distances to the nearest half-inch. Normally I have them measure in metric units, but the math standard requires them to convert between standard units of measure. After collecting and recording their data, each student had to calculate the averages for each frog's leap distance.
Leap Day only comes around once every four years. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have students investigate forces, motion, and distance by making their own origami leaping frogs. It ended up being an amazing and engaging integrated STEM lesson for my fifth grade students!
It amazed me how engaged each student was in doing the addition and division required for this step! It's all about motivation, I guess, since they wanted to find out who had the best leaping frog overall.

What ended up as a last minute switch in plans ended up being such a great integrated math and science lesson. And despite the fact that I used it on Leap Day, it could really be done at any time (minus the cheesy "leap" puns).

And the best part?
It fit in with my science standards today. 

What activities did YOU do in your classroom for Leap Day this year? I'm always on the hunt for new ideas. Share in the comments below!

3 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Absolutely! The students loved the activity and I loved that they were learning!

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  2. hello
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