Students at Carver Middle School learned some interdisciplinary nautical knowledge this semester. Every year, 8th graders have a unit where they learn about and build boats.
“In science, they learn about Archimedes principle and how to use a formula to calculate how large their boat needed to be to hold the weight of their sailor. In math class, they learned how to draw a scale drawing of what their boat looked like on graph paper. In language arts, they read a story called Sea Devil and responded to some questions. In social studies, they learned about the signal flags that ships used. In world languages, they learned about transportation-related vocabulary for each language,” explained Christy Aycock, the 8th grade science teacher.
The unit is part of the Middle Years Programme, which encourages students to make connections between their studies and practical uses. One way the teachers encourage these life lessons is by pairing students up with classmates they may not know very well.
“It’s real valuable. Some of them are very standoffish when they see what group they are assigned to. We evaluate you on how well you get along. There’s even something in their [booklet] where they write each member of their group and evaluate them as far as their work ethic and how well they communicated. We try to make it real-world, so they know they’ll be in a job someday where they’ll have to have these same kinds of skills to be successful,” said Christy.
The groups spent two days building their boats out of cardboard and duct tape. Parent volunteers served as their crew, helping them tear tape to expedite the process. They were careful to not influence the designs, leaving the strategizing to the students. On November 14th, students and staff hauled all 66 boats over to Booker T. Washington High School to test them out.
“We thought it was going to be too small. We saw the other boats, and all of them that were really long folded in half,” said Evelyn Jayne. “We made it all the way, and our boat didn’t sink. We got ninth place.”
“Our boat was really long. The walls were shorter than other people’s walls, but it just made her row faster,” said Melanie Becerra. “My team got first place.”
Their prize? Delicious donuts. Melanie chose chocolate. Other awards were handed out in the auditorium after the race. Then, the students got to watch the movie Spare Parts about an underwater robotics team.
The students had fun working on the project, and they learned a lot through the hands-on process.
“I learned to calculate the buoyancy,” said Evelyn.
“I learned how to work in a team,” added Melanie.
To learn more about the Middle Years Programme, click here.