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SD170's Roosevelt School 5th-Graders Join the Mayflower Challenge

Teams of fifth-grade students from CHSD170's Roosevelt School recently participated in the Mayflower Boat Building Challenge, an inquiry-based classroom competition that allows students to gain new knowledge that can be applied to problems encountered in the everyday world.

The Mayflower Challenge is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education and Social Science activity that promotes the use of cross-disciplinary tools and critical thinking skills. The activity supports the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), Common Core Mathematical Standards, and Illinois Standards for Social Studies parameters of study.

Students began the lesson by participating in the Library of Congress social science computer- interactive activity derived from primary-sources for learners in an elementary level setting.

The students applied problem-solving and mathematical skills while exploring mathematical concepts, solved Thanksgiving number-story items, and outlined graphs used to list results for the mathematics/science portion of the lesson.

Students also brainstormed design lines, shapes, patterns, and explored mathematical relationships as they planned, constructed, tested, and improved upon the design of engineered boats.

In the Mayflower Challenge science lesson, the fifth-graders created boats that would float and hold the weight of five pennies using supplies of straws, foil, Wikki Stix for adhesion, toothpicks for masts, and sticky notes for sails.

The students revised the designs to ensure the capability of supporting a maximum weight of five pennies without sinking, the defined criteria for the challenge outcome. The teams then tested the prototypes of their boats and presented their findings to classmates.

After redesigning their boat, one team explained the fundamentals of Archimedes Principle of Buoyancy, regarding an object's ability to sink or float dependent upon the factors of density and buoyancy.

The students demonstrated the principle by presenting a raft-like boat that held 11 pennies and six quarters, well-exceeding the outcome criteria of the Mayflower Challenge.

"I'm always very proud to guide our amazing fifth-graders at Roosevelt School in the learning process," said Louisa Flamini, Roosevelt's fifth-grade Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies teacher.

"The results of their research and studies leave me in awe as they continue to develop their knowledge base and to understand better the contributions they might make to benefit our future society."