Sink or Float: Grade 4s Put Structural Knowledge to the Test

Sink or Float: Grade 4s Put Structural Knowledge to the Test

Grade 4 students were on Duck Lake putting their knowledge of structures to the test.

It was a real-life assessment in which the teams of students had to use the boats that they had designed and built to complete a course on the WAB campus' infamous Duck Lake. It was part of the Unit of Inquiry exploring "How the World Works."

"We planned, we measured, and we communicated so that we would make sure the boat would be right," one Grade 4 student said.

We wanted to make sure it would float easily. We made sure that there was less density and a big surface area on our design," another pair of students said. "We thought it was quite fun but also scary, because we didn't want to go in the lake. But in the end we fell in the lake."

One of the highlight events for the Grade 4 students arrived after seven weeks of studying the design cycle and learning about water density, surface area, and stability. They built and tested several small-scale models throughout the unit.

The culmination of the unit begins with an overnight sleepover on campus, in which students build sleep structures. Then they wake up the next morning, carry their boats to the water, and work to complete a race course in their boats.

Tune into the video above to see the boat race in action and hear from the students who took part.

"They also had to collaborate and cooperate so they could survive an hour on the water together," Grade 4 Teacher Blair Zachary said. "But I think the most important thing is the fun. I saw the faces of the kids that day and the faces of the people watching. We got all 50 boats out there on the water Friday morning, and I think it was arguably the most awesome thing we've done in a long, long time."