Paint Drop Inquiry (STEAM)

Downloadable (1 PDF - 8 pages)

In this inquiry lesson which is ideal for grades 9-12, students will use paint balloons dropped from various heights to create artwork. Given a limited amount of supplies, students will have to create a mathematical relationship between the balloon drop height and the diameter of the splash circle. Students will be required to design and carry out an experiment, and record their results in a spreadsheet or table. They will then represent their data in graphical format, and identify trends in their data. Students will be required to interpolate and extrapolate their data to carry out other experiments with success.

Students will be using their test results to successfully recreate an art piece of their own choosing, as well as that of another group. This activity exhibits cross-curricular ties between mathematics, art and physics.

After completing this design challenge, students will understand how to:

  • Apply Newton’s laws of motion to solve, algebraically, linear motion problems in horizontal, vertical and inclined planes near the surface of Earth, ignoring air resistance.
  • Conduct experiments to determine relationships among force, mass and acceleration, using available technologies
  • Use critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving to make informed decisions.
  • Analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, so as to encourage critical thinking
  • Recognize concepts of force and motion evident in everyday life
  • Recognize multiple forms of energy and the impact of energy transfer and energy conservation in everyday life

Additional resources included with the activity plan:

  • Student reflection sheet

Additional resources required:

  • Water balloons (thinner than regular balloons) or XL paintballs- about 15-20 per group
  • Washable paint or watered down paint (this lab will use a lot of paint, but the color does not need to be strong)
  • Flip chart paper (large)- 5 per group
  • Garbage bags for each day to cover the ground and protect from paint splatter
  • Ladder for teacher to drop balloons from
  • Computer with spreadsheet/graph programming for each group