6th Grade is learning a lot about how scientists measure matter. After studying some basic ideas about mass, volume, and density (as well as concepts in ship design), student teams were challenged to float two cans of water (for 30 seconds) on a boat built with a wooden frame and aluminum foil.
Teams measured the volume of their boat designs and divided it into the mass represented by the two cans - giving them a density number which could predict if their boat would float. The remaining challenge was about design. Students learned that one of the Titanic's problematic flaws was that its hull was composed of metal sheets attached by weak rivets; students kept this in mind as they covered their boat frames with aluminum foil, minimizing seams wherever they could.
Our final competition was great fun. In this very focused class, all of the students created designs that were capable of floating two cans! We even saw the previous school record of 24 cans beaten by a boat which held 26 cans of water! 8th graders Jolene and Melina, who were on the team whose record was broken, were overheard saying "We're building a new boat!"
Middle School Science
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