First graders at Churchville-Chili’s Chestnut Ridge Elementary School recently prepared for Thanksgiving by learning about the pilgrims and their ship, the Mayflower.
Students wondered what was involved in building a ship that could carry so many people across an ocean. Teacher Jodi Piontkowski challenged her class to design and construct a sea-worthy craft from a Styrofoam plate and cup, and a sheet of aluminum foil.
Working in teams, students discussed and planned their designs. Ships were tested in large tubs of water; many successfully carried more than 200 “pilgrims” (pennies) before they faced the danger of sinking. One ship included a small passenger cabin and a mast with a crow’s nest, another resembled a miniature catamaran.
“This lesson was designed to align to one of the seven International Society for Technology in Education standards: innovative designer,” said Megan Hugg, instructional technology specialist. “Students are presented with an authentic problem. They use a deliberate design process and digital tools to develop, test and refine prototype solutions. As a result, they build a tolerance to ambiguity and learn to persevere as they work with open-ended problems.”