In January, Bryn Mawr sixth-grade students embarked on a bold voyage with their 2011 buoyancy challenge project. The students were called upon to be maritime engineers, and their charge was to build a sea-worthy vessel that could transport several thousand golf balls to various ports around the globe. Students needed to design a boat and to advertise the port from which they would set sail. The boat that could carry the most golf balls, would be awarded the shipping contract.
In preparing to undertake the buoyancy challenge, the students learned about the physics of buoyancy, maritime vocabulary, and boat-building materials; and, they visited the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Teams of students also researched their ports and produced commercials promoting their specific port’s amenities. In preparing their commercials, students learned about the country of their port, the coordinates of their port, the body of water where the port is located, weather and seasons for sailing, the port’s maritime history, and the major exports of the country and port.
All boats were built from standard materials, which included cardboard, paper, Popsicle sticks, duct tape, paper clips, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil. The buoyancy challenge also included vocabulary quiz games, practice water trials, and the culminating activity of the grand “float off,” which was held in two locations at school – the lobbies of Centennial Hall and the North Building.
Congratulations, girls, on becoming true maritime engineers!
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