Education in England is very different to the USA
I like some of your ideas but try this
We were learning about how seeds are dispersed from the parent plant
In particular looking at sycamore ( helicopter) alder, Perhaps maple seeds for you
We drew a rectangle on a sheet of squared paper measuring 6cm. x 4 cm.
This was folded long ways and the centre fold cut down 4 cm. The sides were now folded out like wings and a paper clip attached to the end to weigh it down.
The children stood on the table! and dropped their seed. They measured
a. The time it took for the seed to hit the ground
b. The total area of the seed wings.
The children were now challenged to make a better seed that could stay in the air longer and so disperse further. They used their collected information to graph the results.
They then returned to the original seeds and measured their area and time to fall.
The question was...had they developed a seed that was more effective that Nature?