Early Childhood STEM Enrichment Program: Week 2

Week 2: Building Flat Bottom Boats

Objective: Students will work in partners to design and build a flat bottom or pontoon boat from the provided materials, that floats and can hold weight.

This week the students would have to work collaboratively in partners or in one case a group of 3 in order to design and build their boats. We began the lesson with a PowerPoint presentation that discussed the following information:
  • What are some different types of boats?
  • Identifying specific features that relate to different boat designs (shapes, etc....)
  • Samples of different boat designs and how the bottoms of the boats look.
  • Different materials used to build a boat and why?
  • Discussion of different types of cargo carried on different types of boats.
  • Good VS Bad boat design depending on the cargo..
  • Directions and materials for the activity (similar to the page below for the portfolio).
(The last few slides were saved until after the completion of the activity)










We all agreed that since our test was going to check for floating and being able to carry weight, that a flat bottom or pontoon boat would be the best design.














Here was the pre-activity sheet that the students did, as well as their individual activity sheets with self assessment answers.




Working in partners the students viewed the materials and began drawing preliminary designs of what their flat bottom boat would look like, including labelings of where certain materials would be used.



Then the students set to work using the provided materials to build their boats. 













Once they had their first design built, I provided them with a tub of water to check for buoyancy and for leaks. If it was able to float then they were not required to do a second design, just that they had to explain why a second design was not needed.


Once all the boats had their initial test for floating, then they brought their boats to the front of the room where we would do whole class testing for weight. Simply put, I placed each boat one at a time in water, then added weight (pennies specifically) as the cargo. If the boats took on water or began to sink after having weight placed into it, then the test would stop. We deemed that the boat was still a success if it could float and hold weight, even if it did eventually start to leak, but we did discuss that that particular design might be better for lighter cargo.





Out of the 4 boats that were constructed here are the results of our testing:

Boat 1: Flat bottom with no sides sank immediately with any weight.

Boat 2: Flat bottom with folded sides sank after 57 pennies owing to being taped together in the middle.

Boat 3: Round shape with a roof sank very quickly after 40 pennies.

Boat 4: The strongest design by far, it was a box design with straws taped to the bottom and held the maximum of 124 pennies (all I had at the time).

Below are the feedback samples that the students









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