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Students at St. Mary’s School Test Fluid Dynamics with Foil Boats

Students watch as an aluminum canoe starts to list due to the placement of pennies.
Students watch as an aluminum canoe starts to list due to the placement of pennies. (St. Mary’s School photo)

As part of St. Mary of the Assumption School’s STEM program, eighth graders had fun with physics in their science class Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, culminating in a fluid dynamics lesson focusing on displacement.  

Over the last week, each student designed and built a boat out of aluminum foil, cans and serving trays in the hopes of carrying a cargo of 50 pennies. 

“Building a boat and testing it is a real hands-on science project,” said Christina Miller, the school’s science teacher. “We saw if their boats could do what they were designed for, carry a cargo of at least 50 pennies. Students also discovered where they placed the pennies in their boats had a big impact, too.”  

During the experiment cheers of excitement for boats that floated and sank could be heard across the playground.  

Boat designs ranged from a flat pontoon to a canoe to an aluminum version of the Titanic with small people on board.

“Some of the boats had no problem carrying the 50 pennies. Others started taking on water almost right away but stayed above the waterline for the required 10 seconds,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, our version of the Titanic met the same fate as the original.”

“One of the keys to learning is having fun in school,” said Michelle Cox, St. Mary’s School principal. “Whether our students are doing hands-on class projects, attending science camp or participating in robotics, it’s our goal to provide engaging and exciting STEM learning experiences.” 

Three photos are attached.  For additional pictures, please contact St. Mary’s School.

For additional information, contact Michelle Cox at 805.925.6713 or email [email protected].

Michelle Cox is the principal of St. Mary of the Assumption School.

 

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