How many schools give their students a challenge to defy gravity and walk on water? At Mt. Vernon Middle School, the 8th grade challenges their students’ critical thinking skills by tasking them to build a piloted device that travels the length of the pool, with one team member navigating on the float.
In teams of three or four, students use any materials they can obtain for one team member to cross the pool. If they sink, the team is out of the competition. Teams do not have an opportunity prior to the competition to test their floats.
The project is designed to test the students’ knowledge on issues of problem solving, the scientific method, planning a long-term project, teamwork, and writing a formal lab report. Students are encouraged to think outside of the box. Some of the scientific concepts the students have to consider are: propulsion, density, energy, energy transfer, Newton’s Laws, and stability. The project also requires the student to work through the engineering design process. This year, students even made prototypes of their float design.
Stacy Griner, an 8th Grade Science Teacher and also “Walk-on-Water” creator states,
“I am so very thankful that our students were able to participate in this project, despite the challenges of this year! This year, the other 8th grade science teachers and myself decided to further challenge students by not allowing styrofoam to be used in the construction of their walk on water device. The ingenuity of students was amazing as they were asked to use common household items to help build their device. Even though no student successfully ‘walked on water,’ EVERY student was successful!”
Many teams get in the spirit and dress in a theme that represents their group. This year, teams were dressed as baseball players, video game characters, and Hawaiian shirts made the event extra fun.
The Walk-on-Water event creates an atmosphere of excitement and friendly competition, as well as entertainment. This unique curriculum-based event is one of the capstone activities at Mt. Vernon Middle School.