Full Steam Ahead provides lots of opportunities for students to do some role-playing and engage in a mix of historical and scientific learning. To take the learning further, you might have students write scientific proposals outlining their hypotheses before they begin, and then write reports afterwards explaining the results. It would be fun to do this "in character," giving students a role set in the historical context.Continue reading Show less
In Full Steam Ahead, students design ships to meet one of eight challenges proposed by famous ship designer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. They start with some basic challenges, such as creating a ship that can hold a certain amount of weight. Ships' designs start with student-drawn blueprints modified by some key decisions such as whether to build the ship of iron or wood or whether to use paddles or screw propellers. Students then test their designs. In the first scenario, for example, a crane drops crates into the ship until it sinks. Students earn money based on how many crates the ship can hold, and more money means they can design bigger and better ships. As students complete each challenge, more challenges are unlocked.
It's slow to start, so students will require some encouragement to keep going. Once they get into it, however, the game is pretty addictive as kids design new ships and see how they stand up to a variety of challenges. Students will definitely learn a lot about various aspects of physics and ship design -- and learning happens organically. No pop-up window tells students whether wood or iron is a better building material for ships -- they just have to try both and see what happens. This can be both good and bad, as students may learn the what without knowing the why. Still, as an introduction to physics or just as a fun way to review scientific concepts, Full Steam Ahead will likely meet most teachers' needs.
Key Standards Supported
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
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