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Second Place

6-8 | Science & Tech | Engineering

Station WLPB in Louisiana

My Classroom Innovation

My greatest contribution to education is my ability to enhance students’ scientific processes and thinking skills by extending my students’ learning to the outside world, thus sparking their curiosity about science. This innovative project required my students to build cardboard boats from calculated dimensions and their weight for buoyancy using only cardboard and duck tape. The goal of this project was the application of Archimedes’ Principle. It directly correlated with NOVA’s Building Pharaoh’s Ship because my students and those in the video followed similar design and engineering processes in developing their final product. This project is innovative because it promotes student creativity, and it reinforced all 21st century skills: interpreting and communicating information, applying technology and math to specific tasks, thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, reasoning, individual responsibility, sociability, and raising self-esteem. First, I showed a portion of the NOVA video, Building Pharaoh’s Ship that focused on the construction of the ship to the classes. The students then went online and completed a webquest I created that included the interactive Explore a Pharaoh’s Ship and The Anatomy of a Punt Ship. Students read about the reconstruction development led by Egyptian H. Moustafa. My students then mimicked the construction process in the video: they sketched two-dimensionally and created a three-dimensional object using a CAD program. Students also predicted the waterline using their weight, the force of gravity and the knowledge that one cubic foot supports approximately 64 pounds. We used a local college’s swimming pool to test their boat designs by recording the time it took to complete one lap. In conclusion, students wrote an essay that described how they would change the design, elements they saw other students do that was effective, the application of Archimedes principle, and how buoyant forced can be calculated.

How Students were Engaged

I match instructional approaches to student learning styles and support them with appropriate technologies, which in turn, increase my students’ investigative skills and understanding of the content. I manage a classroom that models respect, and I provide a climate of safety that allows risk-taking and learning. Consequently, my students become eager to discover science, are encouraged to achieve their best, and learn for the sake of learning. This creative project engaged and enlisted participation in many ways as possible. Students completed a video log at the end of the project that queried their roles and responsibilities. Essentially students identified what they contributed to the project in terms of ideas, work effort, respect and support and the safety precautions taken. A survey was provided before the research and brainstorming processes took place, along with the project’s criteria and constraints. The result was students knew ahead of time what was required of them to ensure success in their learning. Students began by calculating their projected boat size, and after checking their math, students begin to sketch the boat design digitally using a CAD program. From this prototype students printed out the sketches with dimensions and begin construction. Groups were composed of students in different classes; students used a private wiki-like site ( to communicate their ideas and what happened in the lab. Here students recorded a daily log of not only the construction process, but also what needed to be done by the next group. Their written essays clearly showed they understood the importance of design and construction as well as applying Archimedes’ principle.

PBS Program/Content Used

Building Pharaoh's Ship