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Underwater Explorer

Design your own underwater exploration invention using recycled materials.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Investigate the exciting world of science fiction and underwater exploration. Invite students to read about Jules Verne, the father of science fiction. Research the history of watercraft and predict future possibilities for underwater travel! organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view. Allow time for children to share their learning when research is complete.
    2. Invite students to design an underwater explorer, or replicate a Jules Verne-type invention. Keep in mind water pressures, temperature, light availability, currents, animal life, and other scientific factors. Designs can be sketched with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils.
    3. Use a variety of craft and recycled materials such as cardboard tubes, craft sticks, beads, small boxes, chenille sticks, and unused coffee filters to construct the apparatus.
    4. Create unique platforms and observation instruments protruding from the vessel by cutting pieces of paper or craft materials with Crayola Scissors. Attach pieces to the apparatus with Crayola School Glue. Dry.
    5. Students cover work areas with recycled newspaper. Decorate modern explorers with colorful Crayola Washable Paints. Include windows and doors with Crayola Washable Glitter Glue. Dry.
    6. Add fine details with Crayola Washable Markers.
    7. Students share their artwork with classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    MATH: Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real-world and mathematical problems.

    MATH: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.

    SCI: Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

    SCI: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Prior to introducing this lesson plan, consider having students work in literature circles, each group reading a different book authored by Jules Verne. As a class, discuss the common threads in his writing.

    Possible classroom resources include: Submarines (Discovery) by Alex Frith; Life on a Submarine (Extreme Jobs in Extreme Places) by Mark Harasymiw; Submarines UP CLOSE by Andra Serlin Abramson; Submarine (Eyewitness Books) by Prentice Hall

    Student groups use their knowledge of the coordinate grid to graph a cross-section of their submersible model. Place components needed to run and maintain the vehicle. Identify each of the ordered pairs used to create this visual. Write directions that would allow someone not in the group to replicate the interior of the model.

    Encourage students to research the history of submarine usage dating back to the American Civil War. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.

    Students interested in events from World War II may wish to research the Japanese use of mini-submarines just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Compare and contrast the mini-subs with modern-day submarines.

    Invite a community member that has served on a military submarine to visit with the class. Prior to the meeting, students compose questions for the guest. After the visit, students post learning to a class blog.

    Organize a field trip for students to visit and tour a World War II submarine or submersible such as the U.S.S. Ling docked in Hackensack, New Jersey, or the U.S.S. Batfish docked in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Prior to the trip, students make a list of questions that they will focus on answering while on the trip. Upon returning to the classroom, students will post learning to a class blog.

    Students collaborate with classmates to write original works of science fiction that bring underwater exploration and their explorers to life. Students should be prepared to present original writing to classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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