Tinkering School

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TSAS Middles: Boats That Float (but don't steer!)

After SchoolSean Murray

After weeks of design and careful building, we filled one of our home-made gutters with water today--and it worked! Just one drip, at a frequency of less than once per second--better than lots of bathtubs!

With our calm, plywood sea out on the Bryant Street sidewalk, design of motorized boats began in earnest.

It works! The gutter holds water!

The boat-making was a really honest representation of prototyping and collegiality. It seemed like every builder was experimenting with different takes on hulls, keels/fins and propellers. Most importantly, kids were freely sharing, mixing and matching their ideas and work. "Can I put my propeller on this boat?" and "Let's see what happens with a smaller fin." Good stuff to hear.

In another very honest representation of prototyping, none of the designs really, well, worked. Boats sputtered and floundered, propellers pulled water in the wrong direction, hot glue construction tore itself apart. We are failing our way towards a more reliable boat, and enjoying the frustration and challenge.

Kielson and Bella work glue two fins onto a hull. The fins would wind up snagging on the gutter bottom.


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