Performance Task: Archimedes' Principle: Whatever Floats Your Boat?


Project Description
This project was a culminating performance task for a unit on fluid dynamics, density and Archimedes' principle. Students are given a pre-measured amount of clay and three straws. The goal is to design a boat that will maximize buoyant force. Their design is limited only by the materials available. They may use the clay and straws in any way they like. They must find the volume by displacement of their boat, and calculate the density of the clay using d=m/v formula. They must complete a planning form describing their design, complete with top and side view scale drawings, and what their testing, modification, and retesting process was. We then float the boats and add weights. The boat that supports the most weight wins a prize. We also have an interclass competition to find the overall winner. Certificates are awarded to each winner.

Rubric Information
Rubric Title Whatever Floats Your Boat?
Rubric ID 113619
Teacher Name Brian Christopher
School Liverpool Middle
Subject Science
Grade 8

Project Includes
Links Task Handout
Standards NS.9-12.1: Science As Inquiry
NS.9-12.2: Physical Science
NS.9-12.5: Science And Technology
Teacher Tips The project was very successful. The kids really enjoyed it and their results really demonstrated their understanding of the principles involved. No real problems were encountered, other than figuring out the time needed. I used three blocks, total of approximately two hours of class time.

RubiStar was nice because it's one of the few rubric Web sites I found that allows you to customize the rubric to fit your needs. I handed out the rubric to the kids in advance, and they used it for a self-evaluation prior to project completion.

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