Whatever Floats Your (3D-Printed) Boat: 7th Grade Field Tests
Posted 11/16/2017 08:49AM

This week, 7th graders in Mrs. Sanchez-Langley’s computer science class field-tested their 3D-printed boats in the fountain outside the Commons. 

This interdisciplinary project combined engineering, 3D design, and problem solving, as students designed boats using the 3D printers and software in the STEAMWork Design Studio. They headed outside to test their boat's flotation and stability in the "calm" fountain water, and in "stormy" fountain water (when Mrs. Sanchez-Langley created waves in the fountain with a bucket!). Using their data and observations from the test, they went back to the studio to revise their designs and add finishing touches to complete the project. 

"That was one of the most successful group tests I've ever seen," Mrs. Sanchez-Langley said after one group came inside with boats that had floated near-perfectly in both calm and stormy weather. She then discussed the iterative process with students, asking them what elements could be changed to improve their boats further, and if their design was successful on the initial test, they worked on adding a motor. "This group had a remarkable understanding of balance," she said, "and really experimented with dropped the center of gravity with the creative use of weights."

One group wanted to test whether size would have an effect on the boats' flotation, so they printed two almost-identical versions - one that could fit in the palm of your hand, and one that was triple that size. When both versions of the boat floated on the water, the cheers could be heard across campus.

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