Posted Date: 09/10/2019
Several factors figure into making a boat that floats. When Royster Middle School science teachers combined that task with the ability to carry cargo and sail from one port to another, the teams of seventh and eighth graders were forced to plan, revise and get creative.
“They had multiple challenges,” said Jory Murry, who along with science teachers Michelle Johnson and Jason Coke assigned the project to their students. “Trying to meet all of them made it more challenging than what they’ve done previously.”
The project also served as an “interesting way” for the eighth graders to review metric measurements at the beginning of the new school year.
Prior to construction, Murry talked with students about the ability to transport cargo across the ocean and how important it is that the boats not sink, especially in the case of oil tankers.
“We do not want your boat to sink,” she emphasized.
Teams developed a design, and then requested approval of a list of construction materials they wanted to use, such as Popsicle sticks, straws, rubber bands, glue, tape, notecards and more. Each team was allowed a single square of aluminum foil.
“We all put our ideas into the design (and) how to make it stand up by itself,” seventh grader Macie Moore said for her team.
It floated and they added 25 pennies for cargo. The crossing from port to port took 19 seconds, with team members using note cards to propel their boat across the water
“If it went a different direction, we’d fan it to go another direction,” Moore said.
Ramona Weese said her team used notecards to create the bottom of the boat.
“Having a sturdy base” was important, she said. “We used it as a mold and put aluminum foil around it.”
The team thought the boat would sink if they added a lot coins, but it didn’t.
“We got up to 220,” Weese said. “It started to get some water in it so we blew it really fast” across the pool to its port.
Eighth graders Reese Clements and Noah Vogel worked on the same team in Murry’s first hour science class. Their first attempt looked something like a shoe. They tried again.
“I came up with the idea of using Popsicle sticks and straws on the side to hold it up. We also made a sail with notecards and a straw,” Vogel said.
“We worked well together as a team,” Clements said. “We got it across the baby pool in seven seconds … just by blowing on it.”
Unlike other teams, Vogel said, “all my team blew on the straws not just one of us” to move the boat across the water.
Prior to sailing, the teams calculated their boat’s mass and used formulas to measure solid volume. They also looked at how the mass and volume of the boat impacted its density and then determined how much cargo – pennies – they thought their boat could carry.
Afterwards, the students reviewed how the mass of pennies affected the boat’s density.
“We started graphing all the data,” Murry said, “so they could figure out which boat was successful in mastering all three challenges.”
“Ours was the best,” Vogel said, “with the best mass to volume ratio, best speed and cargo.”