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Eighth Grade Students Walk on Water & Defy Gravity

Eighth Grade Students Walk on Water & Defy Gravity
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How many schools give their students a challenge to defy gravity and walk on water? At Mt. Vernon Middle School (MVMS), the eighth-grade science teachers challenge 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 the float. This is the 18th year of this immersive project at MVMS.

Students began planning for their project six weeks in advance. Before getting into teams, each student designed and built a small prototype to share and propose to their team to adopt. In teams of four or five, students may use any materials they can obtain for one team member to cross the pool. The teams were able to meet during school hours for planning but were to build their project outside of school. On competition day, if the float sinks, 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 student’s 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 must consider are: propulsion, density, energy, energy transfer, Newton’s Laws, and stability. After the event, students analyze what they observed, create new prototype ideas, and communicate the results.

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Mrs Monagle, 8th Grade science teacher explains, "I love giving students a problem and seeing what they do. The best part of Walk on Water for me is the day that we test the devices. The smiles and laughs make all of the work worthwhile." 

Three awards were given to each of the three academic teams, All-Stars, Pride, and Eagles. First place was given to the group that was able to travel the farthest distance in the water. Second place was the group that had the best representation of the engineering design. Lastly, third place went to the group with the best theme. Many groups get in the spirit and dress in a theme that represents their group. This year, teams were dressed as baseball players, minions, pirates, Hawaiian tourists, and even their teachers, making the event extra fun. 

Ashley Groganz, 8th grade science teacher explains, "Walk On Water is an exciting way for students to engage in their learning. It takes a lot of teamwork and critical thinking skills. The kids really get into the project!" 

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The Walk on Water event creates an atmosphere of excitement, friendly competition, and entertainment. This unique curriculum-based event is one of the capstone activities at Mt. Vernon Middle School and fun for all involved.