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Life Vest Challenge

Lesson Focus 
Lesson explores the engineering behind life vests or personal flotation devices and the challenges met by these devices. Students work in teams to design and build a flotation device out of everyday materials that can keep an unopened can of soup or vegetables afloat in a bucket of water or sink for a minute. They design their life vest, build and test it, evaluate their designs and those of classmates, and share observations with their class.

Age Levels:

8 - 14
Objectives 
  • Learn about engineering design and redesign.
  • Learn about personal floatation devices (PFDs).
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society's challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork and problem solving.
Anticipated Learner Outcomes 

As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • engineering design
  • safety and society
  • teamwork
Lesson Activities 

Students explore how engineers have solved societal problems such as developing and improving equipment that helps save lives in water emergencies. Students work in teams to develop a flotation device out of everyday materials than can keep an unopened can of soup or vegetables afloat for a minute in a bucket of water or a sink. They evaluate their results, and the results of other teams, and share their reflections with the class.

Resources/Materials 
  • Teacher Resource Documents
  • Student Resource Sheet
  • Student Worksheet

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum alignment sheet is included in PDF.


Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks
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