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Aboriginal Youth Identity Series: Health and Wellness Elementary  Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness

Lesson Four: Sink or Float? An Experiment of Aboriginal Watercraft

Teacher Information:

Lesson Four is specifically designed to work in tandem with Lesson Three: Traditional Watercraft. In Lesson Four students will be using the information they collected from their reports and from the classroom database to design and construct their own canoe.

This lesson may require some or all of the following materials for construction:

  • Bendable wire or pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Paper Mache (as an alternative if natural resources are not available)
  • Leaves
  • Bark
  • Twigs
  • String/thin rope
  • Brown paint
  • Staples
  • A large container for holding water
  • Stopwatch

Main Lesson:

Students will design on paper a detailed model outline of the canoe type they are going to construct. It is important that each group member contributes in a meaningful way. Students can utilize any of the above mentioned resources, as well as anything from home, to construct their canoe.

Students will give a short presentation about the construction of their vessel. They may also want to mention the Aboriginal group that utilized this type of canoe and what it was generally used for. Students will predict if their watercraft will float or sink and must reasons why.

Using a large container of water, students will attempt to float their models. You will need a stopwatch to time how long the model stays afloat. Each student will record this information on a chart. As a class discuss the results of the experiment. Encourage students to identify the influence of characteristics such as shape, construction materials, weight, stability, and buoyancy with the length of time afloat.

Conduct a second experiment in which students will add small weights to represent passengers, goods or food. Students will record all information in a chart. As a class discuss the results.

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