Paper Sailboats- STEM Challenge

Saturday, May 23, 2015
I am as tired at the end of the school year as I am at the beginning of the school year! It is hard to find things for students to do that are fun and engaging while allowing students the opportunity to apply skills they have learned this year.

This week, I went with my daughter on her senior trip, so I was gone for two days. Then I had a school wide team leader day, so I was gone for another day.  My students had their fill with quiet sub work, so I knew I needed to provide an outlet for their energy!

Yesterday we built paper sailboats which sailed down the hall using a fan.  Here is the handout that I provided each student with: Paper Sailboat Challenge How far will your sailboat travel using 5 jumbo paper clips as cargo?

I instructed students to pick their groups of three.  As a whole class we went over the objective and the materials that they can use.  I supplied a variety of different paper types and two types of supports (straws and craft sticks).  Students were only limited on their supply of tape.

Step 1: Students brainstormed and drew their sailboat on paper.  During this process students would determine what supplies are needed.
Once they figured out supplies, one student from each group came up to the U table and picked up the supplies.

Step 2: Students built and tested the sailboat.
I left the fan going out in the hall.  Students would go out test their boat and then come back into the room and make adjustments.
I loved hearing how they were going to fix problems that were taking place.  Examples of issues were falling over, spinning around, or sails being too light to catch the wind.
I gave students 60 min to complete the drawing and building phase.





Step 3: Final Test- Students went out to the hall and conducted 3 trials.  After each trail the students measured the distance.  The group went back into the room and found the average distance that their boat traveled.  Students listed their groups average on the board so that other groups could record the data.



All of the boats were so different and many made improvements on their first boats.

This boat kept spinning so the students put sails going the opposite way so that when the boat spun around the other sails would keep the boat moving.  What an amazing idea! 



On Tuesday we will use the data to order measurements and create a scatterplot graph.  

I would love to hear if you complete this challenge in your class! Please post any comments or pictures! 
Have a wonderful LONG weekend :)
Peace, Love, Math- Jenn

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