Lesson: Introduction to Engineering: Aluminum Foil Boats
This lesson is used to get students excited about engineering by acting like an engineer. Students will briefly design, build and test a boat made of aluminum foil.
- Aluminum foil (cut into 15 cm x 15cm)
- 25-40 Markers (save your dried up markers for testing)
- A clear bin filled half way with water
- Optional--LCD projector and document camera (I use this to project the testing area on a screen so that all students can see what's happening)
- DO NOW: What does an engineer do? Students should answer this question when the bell rings. Review responses. (5 minutes)
- Explain to the students that they are going to be engineers today whose challenge it is to create a boat that can hold as many markers as possible.
- Give students 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas and sketch their boat.
- Then give students aluminum foil (1 piece/ 2 students) and have them create their boat (4 minutes) This isn't a lot of time! You can reinforce the idea of constraints that engineers face. Mostly time and money.
- Test boats one at a time in the test area. I like to set up the bin filled with water and the projector towards the front. Students drop off their boat and I place the markers in. I then record how many markers the boat held before sinking.
- Repeat for all boats. Move quickly...this takes a while to test all of them.
- Wrap-up/clean-up. If your wrap-up is short, be sure to reflect on the experience at the next class.
This lesson is adapted from Prentice Hall, The Nature of Science and Technology.
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