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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Transportation Systems Engineering

Teacher Resource Center

Lesson Overview
Lesson Title:
The Scientific Method: The Best Raft

Ms. Crystal Klein (Primary)

Brief Description:
Students will learn how to use the scientific method through building and modifying structures.

Topics Introduced:
Scientific Method, Basic Prinicipals of Flight

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Curriculum Framework Components Addressed:
Transportation Operations
Suggested Grade Levels:
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade

Standards Taught:
12.2.1 Science 2003
12.1.1 Science 2003
12.1.2 Science 2003
12.1.3 Science 2003
12.1.4 Science 2003
12.6.1 Science 2003
12.8.3 Science 2003
12.8.2 Science 2003
12.8.1 Science 2003
12.7.6 Science 2003
12.5.1 Transportation
12.4.2 Transportation
12.3.3 Transportation
12.3.2 Transportation
12.3.1 Transportation
12.2.3 Transportation
12.2.2 Transportation
12.2.1 Transportation
12.1.2 Transportation
12.1.1 Transportation

Lesson Information
Learning Expectations:

Students are expected to apply the steps of scientific method. Students will understand at the end of the activity that the initial and second tests were actually research for the final test.

Students often do not do any research before they make a hypothesis. This is why it is often difficult for them to make a hypothesis for an experiment in science class/

Plan Of Action:

First we brainstorm words associated with the Scientific Method. We create a word web with the terms.

Then we take a pre-test on the scientific method.
You can ask the students general questions about the Scientific Method,separate parts in the method and how to run an investigation.

Next student use the Internet to find different examples of the Scientific Method. We discuss the differences and similarities. After discussion, we create our own Scientific Method plan.

Next we do some warm up engineering get them is the right frame of mind. I want them to not be afraid to try new and crazy things and to be okay when whatever they build fails miserably as long as they are able to improve upon their initial design....Th High Rise Challenge(given limited supplies build a tower as tall as possible that will support as much weight as possible), Framework Challenge (build a framework that will support 1 cup of water 6 inches off the table top using as few supplies as possible), and Humpty Dumpty Challenge (build a container that will protect an egg from cracking when it is dropped off the back of the stadium).
After completing the activities related to the Scientific Method(Frame Work Challenge and High Rise Challenge) students will complete the Best Raft challenge.

First students will build a raft using their own experience and ideas. This raft will be tested to see how many pennies it can hold before sinking. Next, the students will modify their rafts to hold more pennies. Finally, students will share information and results with each other to come up with the best raft possible. Students will build and test a final raft which will (hopefully) hold the most pennies.

Data Set Used:

The students should record the following information...

Dimension of their raft
Number of pennies the raft held before sinking

Materials Needed:

Hand out

Preparation Period:

You will need plain white paper and a roll of masking tape. Measure out the tape for each group.

To test the rafts, you will need a large tub and approximately 300 pennies. I use multiple tubs to speed along the testing. Several large towels are also helpful. Also, have an official counter at each tub.

Implementation Period:

35 to 45 minute periods...during our study of the scientific method.

Science, Math, Engineering and / or Technology Implications:

Students will learn how to apply the scientific method to various design issues.

Unexpected Results:

Students see that the scientific method is not linear, but cyclic.

Students also learn the importance of recording data carefully. Many students do a poor job or recording some dimensions of the rafts and are unable to repeat their initial success.

Best project I have seen for teaching kids (low or high) the scientific method.

Considerations for Diversity in Education:

This project can be used with low end students by providing lots of support or higher end students as an inquiry activity with little to no support.

Lesson Files
Best Raft Documents
Hand out for Best Raft Activity
[size: 124928] [date uploaded: Mar 07, 2011, 1:18 pm ]

Best Raft Reflection
Post activity reflection on students thoughts on the activity...very basic.
[size: 32735] [date uploaded: Mar 07, 2011, 1:22 pm ]

AS FrameWork Challenge
Supporting Materials for Scientific Method
[size: 23552] [date uploaded: Mar 27, 2011, 7:08 pm ]

AS High Rise Challenge
Supporting Materials for Scientifc Method
[size: 23552] [date uploaded: Mar 27, 2011, 7:08 pm ]

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