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Life Vest Challenge

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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.
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Lesson Synopsis 
The "Life Vest Challenge" lesson explores how engineers work to solve the challenges of a society, such as creating and improving devices that can help prevent loss of life in water. Students work in teams to devise a system using every day materials that can keep an unopened can of soup or vegetables afloat for at least a minute in a bucket of water or sink. Student teams sketch their plans, build their system, test it, reflect on the challenge, and present their findings to 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.

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