A Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By

By Thelma Kastl, October 23, 2007

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Three ninety-minute class periods


HANDOUTS: transportation history introduction with image blanks, sailboat self check handout, Sea Fever, A Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By grading rubrics, Intelligent Car - Adam Rulli-Gibbs, transportation overview with blanks, This unit is an introduction to transportation systems that will culminate with the students designing a wind-powered water transportation device. Students will explore the role that transportation has played in history and continues to play in today's society. By understanding the principles of water transportation, students will be encouraged to design water transportation devices that use inexhaustible power sources such as wind power or solar power. They will explore water transportation design principles and then design and build a working prototype.

National Standards

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

 Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


National Visual Arts Standards


Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Anchor Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work.

 Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.

Anchor Standard #10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
 Anchor Standard #11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

Standard 7. Students will develop an understanding of the influence of technology on history. Standard 10. Students will develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving. Standard 11. Students will develop the abilities to apply the design process. Standard 18. Students will develop an understanding of and be able to select and use transportation technologies.


Students will:
  • identify important concepts related to transportation
  • use and improve in the area of active problem solving
  • explain and give examples of the importance of transportation today and throughout history
  • design a new transportation device to be used on water
  • create a model of their transportation device and test it on water


Power Points Transportation History Introduction (attached) Transportation Overview (attached)
Handouts and/or Overheads Transportation History Introduction with image blanks (attached) Transportation History Introduction with word blanks (attached) Transportation Overview with blanks (attached) Sea Fever by John Masefield (attached) Sailboat Self-Check Handout (attached) Student Design and Data Sheet (attached) A Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By grading rubrics (attached) Intelligent Car by Adam Rulli-Gibbs (attached)


wood styrofoam plastic glue dowel rod cloth balloons staples tin cans aluminum foil plastic wrap paper construction paper any scrap materials Materials to use to test the prototypes: Piece of gutter 8-10 feet long with the ends capped Variable speed box fan


System- A group of independent variables or subsystems working together to achieve a goal or to perform a task Example: The human body is made up of several "subsystems." Subsystem- Smaller systems that make up a larger system Example: The digestive system is one system that is necessary for the human system to survive. Vehicular system- A collection of separate systems (or subsystems) that allow the vehicle or machine to move through its environment Land transportation- The process by which passengers or goods are moved or delivered from on place to another Air transportation- The use of airplanes, helicopters, and dirigibles to lift passengers and/or cargo into the air in order to move from place to place Water transportation- The use of water to suspend the vessel in the transport of people or goods Space transportation- Systems that move people and goods outside the earth’s atmosphere Vehicular control system- The parts of vehicles that are used to change a vehicle’s directions and/or speed Vehicular guidance system- Those parts of a vehicle which provide information required by a vehicle to follow a particular path or perform certain operations Vehicular propulsion system- The parts of the vehicle which enable a system to move Vehicular structural system- The parts of a vehicle that hold other vehicular systems and the loads they will carry Vehicular suspension system- The parts of the vehicle that support and/or suspend the vehicle in its environment Vehicular support system- Those external operations that maintain transportation systems


Class 1
Step 1. Introduce the lesson by displaying Sea Fever by John Masefield on an overhead projector or SmartBoard. Note: You may also pass out Sea Fever handouts for the students. These could be used as a cover sheet for their culminating activity design.
Step 2. After reading the poem aloud or having one of the students read the poem aloud, ask the students for reactions to the poem, specifically the first stanza. Ask the students if they have ever felt the way this poet feels toward any transportation device. Write down their answers and comments. Step 3. Ask the students if they feel that the writer of the poem enjoyed sailing or being on a sail-driven boat. Ask them if they have ever enjoyed a form of transportation so much that they would write a poem about it. Explain to the students that transportation has had a profound impact on humanity, so much so that people have painted pictures, conducted a world transportation commission, and written poems about transportation. Step 4. Use the PowerPoint “Transportation History Introduction." Ask questions to assess understanding as you present the PowerPoint. Note: You can give the students copies of the PowerPoint without the pictures ("Transportation History Introduction with image blanks" or “Transportation History Introduction with word blanks”), then have the students glue pictures of each of the transportation devices to the handouts as you are going through the PowerPoint. Step 5. Lead the students in a discussion about how transportation has radically changed since the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ask them to postulate how transportation might evolve during their lifetimes. Ask students what factors might influence this change and write down their answers. Note: You may have to coax students for answers like fuel usage, environmental concerns, need for cheaper transportation, need for smaller vehicles in cities where space is a commodity, or desires for personal aircraft. Step 6. Ask the students to classify the transportation vehicles they saw in the previous PowerPoint. Step 7. Give the students copies of the PowerPoint “Transportation Overview with blanks.” Have the students fill in the blanks as you are going through the PowerPoint. Present the PowerPoint "Transportation Overview." While giving the PowerPoint, give the students additional examples. Ask questions to assess their understanding as you present the PowerPoint. Step 8. As a review, have the students complete the “Sailboat Self Check Handout” and turn it in at the end of class. Note: Use this handout to determine if the students need clarification of material or additional information. You may wish to write additional notes or comments to individual students on this handout. You can use this handout to determine what you should review on Day 2.
Class 2
Note: Prior to the start of this class fill the rain gutter with water and make the fan available so students can "test" their projects. Step 1. Using the information you gathered from the students' answers on the "Sailboat Self Check Handout", review the material as a class. Clarify answers to any questions the students have and ask them about the four classifications of transportation (land, air, water, space). Step 2. Remind the students of the design procedure you use in class. (North Carolina uses the D.E.A.L. Problem Solving Method, which is Define the problem. Explore all possible solutions. Act on the best plan. Look back and evaluate.) Step 3. Pass out “Student Design and Data Sheet” handout to each student. Instruct students to record their design process on this sheet. Introduce the design scenario. (Students should design a water transportation device that will travel inside the gutter and will be powered by wind. The criterion is to design the fastest boat using whatever materials are available.) Go over your expectations or grading rubric. Tell the students that the design process and manufacture of a working prototype should not take more than the remainder of this class (60 minutes) and 40 minutes of the next class. You may choose to only grade the students on the final product or you may choose to require them to complete a written design brief. You can also allow the students to work in teams. Step 4. For the rest of the class period, allow students to work on their designs. Give them access to the water-filled gutter and fan so that they can test their projects prior to the official testing. Step 5. Clean up.
Class 3
Step 1. Ask the students to give a short report on their progress. Step 2. Allow the students to continue working on their projects and give them access to the water-filled gutter and fan so that they can test their projects prior to the official testing. Remind them to record their data. Step 3. As a class, test the prototypes in the rain gutter using the fan for propulsion. Step 4. Have a student read the poem Intelligent Car. Ask the students how this poem differs from the earlier poem. Ask the students if a transportation device has ever caused them to feel as the writer of this poem feels. Step 5. Clean up.


Student achievement can be assessed using the attached rubrics or by multiple-choice testing, as well as through their verbal responses to questions throughout the lesson.
To differentiate instruction: Higher-level students could be asked to create a transportation-related poem or to research and give a presentation on one of the transportation areas or subsystems. Students could also be asked to research and design a futuristic vehicle of their own. Lower-level students could be given a kit to build from or specific instructions for making a sail boat. These students may also require physical assistance with the construction of the sailing vehicle.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Higher-order thinking skills can be triggered by encouraging students to keep time records of their initial attempts and subsequent design changes with the new time records. The students could then compare the data and make hypothesis about why/how the design changes affected the vehicle speed.
The students could write poetry, paint pictures, or create models to be displayed at a museum or library.

Teacher Reflection

The students were very successful. They enjoyed the lesson and this was evident in their participation and final vehicle designs. I utilized the rubric provided and I also used the North Carolina VoCats Test Item Bank questions that related to transportation. The students performed above average on both assessments. The students did not need to revisit any of the information in this unit. The instructional strategies used within this lesson are questioning and research and design through experimental investigation. For the most part, the students enjoy being asked what they think and they definitely love being in control of their own research and design, and experimental investigation.
I think I will leave this lesson as is.

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