Recently, fifth-graders at Katherine Smith Elementary School in San Jose complete a PBL on explorers and boats. This project combined social studies, science, and engineering. Using cardboard, tape and glue, they learned about area, volume, buoyancy, density and water displacement. Their project focused on the early explorers and their need to travel through waterways.
For our PBL Project “To Sail or Not to Sail….It’s an Exploration!” We learned about boats and their roles in early exploration. To do this I did many activities. Four that I enjoyed the most were Explorer Diary, Straw Boat, Boat Prototype, and O’Neill Sea Odyssey.
We made an Explorer Diary. First, we had to write down what the pages were going to say on a separate piece of paper. After we were done with that, my group had the teacher check our writing (the first draft). When we got all the writing right, we wrote two pages inside the diary in cursive about a time in the explorer’s life. When we were done with that, we crumpled up all the papers, opened them up, and flattened them out a little to make them look old. We put them in the order in which they happened. Then we stapled them together. Lastly, we found pictures that went with the pages and glued them on. We put some finishing touches and we were done!
We also made a straw boat. We had limited supplies. There were ten straws, ten inches of plastic warp and one piece of 3 inch duct tape. We set the straws on top of the plastic warp, scrunched it, and taped it with a piece of duct tape. We made sure the boat was strong, but then we found a hole in our boat, so we put a piece of duct tape to cover it up. Then it was ready to float. The next day we tested all the boats. They had to hold twenty-five pennies without sinking. Our boat held twenty-five pennies for twenty-two seconds. We were in the lead! Until one boat held twenty-five pennies for 13 minutes. Then we were bumped to 2nd place. Then another boat went and floated for one hour and thirteen minutes. So we were bumped to 3rd place but at least we were successful!
Then we made a boat prototype. First we had to gather the supplies: box cutters, duct tape, shoeboxes, packing tape, gorilla tape, scissors, and a pencil. Next, we got the shoebox and cut out the pieces of cardboard we wanted to use with box cutters. Then we taped the pieces together with gorilla tape. After we taped the perimeter with clear packing tape. When we finished, we added a few finishing touches. Finally, we took it outside and floated it to see if it could float with 10 pounds in it. It held 20 pounds! My group was excited that we held the most weight. It was a cool day!
As a part of this project, we went to O’Neill Sea Odyssey. We took the bus to Santa Cruz to go to O’Neill Sea Odyssey. They taught us about sea life and boats. We learned how to use a compass and how to steer a boat. We played games and had lunch on the beach. While we were in the boat, we went fishing and we got some plankton and some algae. Then we went inside the beach house and looked under the microscope. We saw the plankton and one was pregnant! I had an outstanding day!
In conclusion, this PBL project really opened by mind about boats and early exploration.