Adapted Lesson – Boat Challenge


“STEM Boat Challenge,” by Timothy Baszak, STEM class, grades 5-8 at  Waypoint Academy in Sandwich, MA.

Build a boat that will hold as many pennies as possible while staying afloat.  Teams of 2 are given a $5 budget to use on materials, and must submit a budget plan.  Before you begin building, your team must also submit a sketch (label it please!) to help you determine exactly what materials you’ll need.
A student drops pennies into their boat one at a time to see whether it will continue floating.
YOU MAY NOT TRADE MATERIALS!
DO NOT MAX OUT YOUR BUDGET BEFORE YOUR FIRST TRIAL!

  Skill building:

  •  troubleshooting/problem solving
  • budgeting
  • teamwork

  Parameters:

Your boat must hold at least 15 pennies.  The more your boat can hold, the higher your score.  You have two chances to meet the minimum requirements of the challenge.  Pennies are to be placed in your boat one at a time until you reach 15.  Once staff has confirmed that you have met the requirements, you may continue to place one at a time as you wish.  You and your partner must agree how many pennies you’ll place (i.e. what number you will stop at), and if your boat sinks in the process, you will get credit for meeting the minimum requirements ONLY.

Your boat must meet the following specifications:
  1. Must have an edge that is at least 1/2″ high.
  2. Must be a minimum of 4″ long, 3″ wide.
  3. No more than 2 cups may be used.
Steps:
  1. Planning/drafting.
  2. Use budget worksheet to plan your design.
  3. Purchase materials.
  4. Build.
  5. Test your design.
  6. Purchase materials/make adjustments.
  7. Final test.
Price List:
  • foil; $0.50
  • elastic; $0.10
  • pipe cleaners; $0.25
  • binder clip; $0.25
  • cups; $1
  • straw; $0.10
  • popsicle stick; $0.25
  • tape; $0.50
**We included more materials so the kids could approach this “engineering problem” with varied resources.  It ended up working out great because we had a lot of different ideas being tested.  This was done in STEM class, so experiencing and working through engineering problems through modeling–and to a lesser extent, trial-and-error–was the challenge.

I also felt it was appropriate to make this activity somewhat competitive; any excuse for our population to compete healthily with others is encouraged.  Making it competitive ties into our practice of making EVERYTHING incentive based.  That’s pretty much a reflex at this point, and probably not appropriate or necessary for typical populations. (The original lesson stresses a non-competitive lesson.)

Pricing of materials and a budget was introduced so students could practice their planning skills.  Managing time and resources is a skill that they need to practice daily.  Additional materials obviously meant making additional limits/guidelines.

Original Lesson:

Aluminum Foil Boats, STEAMing Into the Future.

Additional Resources

 

Education Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

  Grade Bands
3-5 6-8 9-12
Engineering and Technology Content Standards

 

 

ETS1

3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

 

3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

 

MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

 

HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Cross-cutting concept ·         Scale, proportion, and quantity

 

·         Systems and system models

Science Practices ·         Planning and carrying out investigations

 

·          Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

·         Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

  Grade Bands
6-8 9-10 11-12
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects WHST.6-8.1b  Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

 

WHST.6-8.2a  Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories as appropriate to achieving purpose; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

WHST.9-10.2a  Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. a. Introduce a topic and organize ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. WHST.11-12.2a  Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. Introduce a topic and organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Internal Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students

ISTE Standards•S 4 Innovative Designer – Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.

  1. Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  2. Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
  3. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.