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What's that red thing on a turkey?
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DISCUSS:

What do you notice about this group of turkeys?

turkeys

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Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Animal Traits & Behaviors
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this mini-lesson, students learn why in some bird species the male looks so different from the female. In the activity, Gobble Wobbler, students build turkey models that can perform wobbly dances. Students observe details of turkey feathers and use that information to decorate their models with colorful feathers.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Crayons
90 crayons
Scissors
30 pairs
File Folder Labels (Stickers)
60 stickers
Paper Clips
Bobby pins will also work. We've found these may be easier to use for younger students.
Details
60 clips
Paper Clips
Grades 3-5 will need an extra 5 paper clips per student.
Details
150 clips
Plastic Straw
8 straws
Post-It File Tabs
Needed for grades K-2 only.
Details
180 tabs
Yarn
90 feet
Fanciest Feathers (Grades 3-5) printout Print 15 copies
Fanciest Turkey (All Grades) printout Print 15 copies
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own, but will need a partner to help with a few steps.

Prepare Straws

Each student needs a piece of plastic straw that is about 1-inch long. If the straw is too long, the turkey models won't dance. We suggest that you prep straws prior to class to make distribution easier.

Prepare Yarn

Each student needs a piece of yarn about 3 feet in length. Cut enough pieces of yarn prior to class.

Younger vs Older Student Versions

Both versions of the activity have students build a standard Gobble Wobbler. The only difference is that the younger student version uses Post-It tabs as additional feathers instead of paper feathers attached with paper clips.

Teacher Background

Gravity and friction work together to make the Gobble Wobbler dance.

Gravity pulls the turkey and straw downward, but the weight of the turkey pulling on one side of the straw makes the straw tilt so that one end hits the string.

Friction between the straw and the string stops the turkey from dropping — but only for a moment. When the straw pushes on the string, the string pushes back, making the turkey bounce up. That straightens the straw, so it can fall a bit before the pull of the turkey tilts the straw again, and the cycle repeats.

This toy is based on an old toy that physicists call the oscillating woodpecker. You can read more about the physics of the oscillating woodpecker here.

Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Animal Traits & Behaviors