We began the lesson by reading the book, Pilgrims of Plymouth, by Susan B. Goodman. This led to a fabulous discussion about Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the Mayflower. We learned that the Mayflower sailed to America in 1620, carrying 102 passengers, cargo, and crew. Originally another ship, named the Speedwell, was intended to sail along with the Mayflower. Sadly, the Speedwell was leaking, and therefore was deemed unseaworthy. The passengers and cargo from the Speedwell were transferred to the Mayflower. The Mayflower had to withstand fierce weather on the ocean, but also carry the weight of the additional passengers and cargo from the Speedwell.
This was a wonderful lead into "the problem" the children would be charged with solving. I told the kids they had been commissioned to built a boat to replace the Speedwell on the voyage to America. They were going to become boat builders, working to build the Speedwell II. They would need to work with a partner using the provided materials to build a strong, sturdy boat that could hold lots of cargo and passengers. Once construction was complete, each partnership would test their boat's strength by floating it in a tub of water and loading cargo bit by bit (pennies).
The kids were given the following materials and 30 minutes to construct their Speedwell II.
Materials: 10 Wikki Stix, 10 Popsicle Sticks, 5 Post It Notes, 5 Toothpicks, 5 Beads,
1 Piece of Tin Foil
We concluded this lesson by discussing why some boats held more pennies than others. We "pushed our thinking" by looking carefully at the structure of the boats that were able to hold many pennies and discussed what was unique about these designs.
Each child posted both their drawn design and model to their SeeSaw portfolio. Be sure to ask your child about the Speedwell II they created as they became a second grade engineer.
Imagining, Planning and Designing...