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The Science and History of the Sea

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Session 1: TBA at the USS Constitution Museum. Museum staff led.

Constitution Museum Charlestown (1)

Introductory movie (10 minutes)

  • Design your own frigate based on the templates of Constitution’s ship designer Joshua Humphreys: Students will produce drawings.
  • Made in America – what materials were used to create the USS Constitution? Students will create a list of 5 materials from the New England region.
  • Which of these woods is the hardest? Through dropping balls into difference woods, we can study the difference in how the ball bounces back. The kinetic energy of the rebounding ball is related to the amount of energy absorbed by the wood. See the difference between kinetic energy and potential energy.
  • Test your ship against other frigates in this hands-on challenge. Choose between three different types of ships for the ultimate test of size, speed and power: An interactive computer simulation.
  • What’s so great about copper? Learn about the metals used in construction
  • Build a ship: Assemble 2D pieces into a 3D model – how quickly can they accurately complete the task?
  • Construction and launch: View this video, and then explain how a ship is safely launched from a drydock into the ocean.  Students will demonstrate that they understand the procedure by writing a step-by-step paragraph explaining the sequence.
  • How can a ship sail against the wind? Through a hands on experiment, see how changing the angle of the sail affects the motion of the boat: Students should be able to explain in complete sentences how the same wind can make a ship move forwards or backwards.
  • On the 2nd story of the museum, operate a working block-and-tackle system. This uses a classic simple machine. It is a system of two or more pulleys with a rope or cable threaded between them, usually used to lift or pull heavy loads. Back in the school building, we’ll review each of the classic simple machines.

On the 2nd story of the museum, operate a working block-and-tackle system. This uses a classic simple machine: pulleys with a rope or cable threaded between them, to lift or pull heavy loads.

pulley simple machine


Session 2: USS Constitution Visitor Center, Building 5

10 minute orientation video

Can you locate where our school is on the 3D Boston Naval Shipyard model?

As students tour the visitor center, they practice ELA reading and writing skills (listed below) by briefly summarizing something they learn from each of these sections: They are encouraged to create drawings/tracings as they see fit to help illustrate their text.

  • Describe how ropes are made from string in the ropewalk
  • From wood & sail to steel & steam
  • Preparing for new technology
  • The shipyard in the Civil War
  • Ships and shipbuilding
  • The Navy Yard 1890-1974
  • Chain Forge and Foundary
  • The Navy Yard during World Wars I and II
  • Shipyard workers 1890 to 1974
  • The shipyard during the Cold War era 1945-1974

Session 4: Teaching math using the USS Constitition

Teaching math: Lessons from the USS Constitution

This teaching supplement contains math lessons organized in grade-level order. However, because many of the math skills used in these lessons are taught in multiple grades, both grade-level and lesson content are listed below.

Pre K–K 
Estimating Numbers of Objects

Grade 1
Estimating and Comparing Numbers of Objects

Grade 2
Estimating and Comparing Length, Width and Perimeter

Grade 3
Computing Time and Creating a Schedule

Grade 4
Drawing Conclusions from Data Sets

Grade 5
Creating and Interpreting Graphs from Tables

Grade 6
Range, Mean, Median and Mode and Stem-and-Leaf Plots

Grade 7
Converting Between Systems of Measurement

Grade 8
Calculating Volume

Algebra I (Grade 9–10)
Describing Distance and Velocity Graphs

Algebra I (Grade 9–10)
Writing Linear Equations

Algebra II (Grade 9–12)
Using Projectile Motion to Explore Maximums and Zeros

Precalculus & Advanced Math (Grade 10–12)
Using Parabolic Equations & Vectors to Describe the Path of Projectile Motion

Learning Standards

MA 2006 Science Curriculum Framework

2. Engineering Design. Central Concept: Engineering design requires creative thinking and consideration of a variety of ideas to solve practical problems. Identify tools and simple machines used for a specific purpose, e.g., ramp, wheel, pulley, lever.

Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

HS-ETS4-5(MA). Explain how a machine converts energy, through mechanical means, to do work. Collect and analyze data to determine the efficiency of simple and complex machines.

Benchmarks, American Association for the Advancement of Science

In the 1700s, most manufacturing was still done in homes or small shops, using small, handmade machines that were powered by muscle, wind, or moving water. 10J/E1** (BSL)

In the 1800s, new machinery and steam engines to drive them made it possible to manufacture goods in factories, using fuels as a source of energy. In the factory system, workers, materials, and energy could be brought together efficiently. 10J/M1*

The invention of the steam engine was at the center of the Industrial Revolution. It converted the chemical energy stored in wood and coal into motion energy. The steam engine was widely used to solve the urgent problem of pumping water out of coal mines. As improved by James Watt, Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer, it was soon used to move coal; drive manufacturing machinery; and power locomotives, ships, and even the first automobiles. 10J/M2*

The Industrial Revolution developed in Great Britain because that country made practical use of science, had access by sea to world resources and markets, and had people who were willing to work in factories. 10J/H1*

The Industrial Revolution increased the productivity of each worker, but it also increased child labor and unhealthy working conditions, and it gradually destroyed the craft tradition. The economic imbalances of the Industrial Revolution led to a growing conflict between factory owners and workers and contributed to the main political ideologies of the 20th century. 10J/H2

Today, changes in technology continue to affect patterns of work and bring with them economic and social consequences. 10J/H3*

Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Frameworks

5.11 Explain the importance of maritime commerce in the development of the economy of colonial Massachusetts, using historical societies and museums as needed. (H, E)

5.32 Describe the causes of the war of 1812 and how events during the war contributed to a sense of American nationalism. A. British restrictions on trade and impressment.  B. Major battles and events of the war, including the role of the USS Constitution, the burning of the Capitol and the White House, and the Battle of New Orleans.

National Council for the Social Studies: National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Time, Continuity and Change: Through the study of the past and its legacy, learners examine the institutions, values, and beliefs of people in the past, acquire skills in historical inquiry and interpretation, and gain an understanding of how important historical events and developments have shaped the modern world. This theme appears in courses in history, as well as in other social studies courses for which knowledge of the past is important.

A study of the War of 1812 enables students to understand the roots of our modern nation. It was this time period and struggle that propelled us from a struggling young collection of states to a unified player on the world stage. Out of the conflict the nation gained a number of symbols including USS Constitution. The victories she brought home lifted the morale of the entire nation and endure in our nation’s memory today. – USS Constitution Museum, National Education Standards

Common Core ELA: Reading Instructional Texts

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings

Common Core ELA Writing

Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

External links

The USS Constitution Museum, located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which is part of the Boston National Historical Park

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