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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

Fifth-grade students at McAuliffe Elementary School used the RMS Titanic to immerse themselves in the scientific method. This interdisciplinary project included language arts, mathematics, and science activities. Students had a chance to collaborate and problem-solve through observations and inferences. They tested their hypotheses and documented their conclusions from hands-on research.

Principal Janice Herritt said, “Students are making connections between their readings, research, and what they are learning in science. They have been engaged and the students are asking higher level questions.”

To kick off the unit, students received a ticket to sail on the Titanic. Each ticket had the name of an actual person who traveled on Titanic’s voyage. Personal information about each passenger and a research paper were also provided.

Activities included students designing and building aluminum foil boats. This allowed them to measure buoyancy and determine how many survivors could be on a lifeboat. A Venn diagram was created to compare the three classes of passengers on the ship. Students also compiled the passengers’ ages, then calculated the mean, median, mode, and range.

For a day, the classrooms and hallways transformed and mimicked the era. Classrooms became the ship’s dining rooms and passenger cabins. Hallways displayed large images of the Titanic at sea and students came dressed as the ship’s ticketed passengers.


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