Form 1 Tests the Waters in Boat Building

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January 12, 2023

Form 1 Tests the Waters in Boat Building

Last Friday’s event at the Cornerstone Pool in West Hartford was another case of the KO Middle School doing what the KO Middle School does best – mixing learning and levity, exploration and exuberance. This semester Form I’s interdisciplinary study on the Power of Water wove together watersheds, rivers, indigenous populations, industrialization, and refugee experiences to uncover how water has the power to connect us through time and various communities.


One aspect of the class had students consider how, in some refugee experiences, homemade boats are utilized as a means to flee and are often built with just the materials available. Students drew on their understanding of a character from Refugee and their knowledge of the Cuban Refugee crisis, where boats were manmade from random material and often unseaworthy. 


In science class, the student teams designed and built a boat using only cardboard and duct tape large enough to accommodate at least one team member, employing the design thinking process, which requires problem-solving, collaboration, and iteration. Before the build, the students conducted an experiment on flotation, and in the building lesson, the students concentrated on buoyancy, engineering, and other construction methods. 


And then it was all hands on deck as the students took their vessels, named Titantic 2, Ferda, and Dustbuster, among others,  to two lanes at Cornerstone and tested their seaworthiness. Most of the crew cheered in the stands for their skiff as one designated sea dog steadily and not-so-steadily paddled their crafts across the chlorinated surf, one boat at a time. Teachers timed the boats one made sure to be in the water at all times…safety first.


All the boats performed well, some better than others in terms of buoyancy. Although one sank, it made its maiden voyage halfway across the pool before disintegrating. The paddle design proved to be a key feature. The larger the paddle, the quicker the boat went and the more efficient the ship’s captain was. The shape of the ship was another factor in the boats’ success. Some were narrower than others, and the wider ones fared the seas better.


What a fun way to learn and see the lessons applied firsthand! There was no shortage of camaraderie no matter what team you were on, there was a terrific group effort by all.


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