6800 kilometres east of Edmonton, Alberta sits a small community in England. West Sussex is a county in the southern portion of England and it is known for a colony of bizarre houseboats.
Using spare parts from old buses, missiles, and planes, each boat has its own unique look and feel. Among the residents of the community is Hamish Mckenzie. An imaginative houseboat renovator, he’s incorporated his wacky and creative personality to create a truly spectacular home. From a microwave as a mailbox to the nose of a jumbo jet as a window, Hamish infuses new life into discarded objects.
Check out this brief video clip:
STEAM lesson: Build Your Own Houseboat
Overall time required: 2-4 45 minute periods
Engineering Teamwork and Planning
You are a team of marine engineers given the challenge of designing a houseboat with sails using everyday materials that can hold a set weight, have an original look and move 4 feet along a classroom waterway harnessing wind energy from a fan.
Planning and Design Phase
Each team has been provided with a set of materials (recyclables). Review these as a group and draw your plan for a houseboat design in the box below. Think about how the weight your boat must carry should be distributed in the boat for stability during motion. Also think about what your sail material will be and how it will be attached to the boat securely.
As a team, build your boat, and then complete the questions below (via Flipgrid video, Padlet or even Google Doc/Slide):
1. How similar was your design to the actual houseboat you built.
2. If you found you needed to make changes during the construction phase, describe why you made revisions.
Your teacher has created a waterway for testing your watercraft. Test your boat! If you find your sail or houseboat design doesn’t work the first time, you’ll have an opportunity to redesign your houseboat and try again. Don’t worry if it fails the first time. Part of engineering is testing and designing products until the optimal design is achieved.
Answer the following questions to summarize your experience with this activity. Work in teams to come up with group opinions. (Via Flipgrid video, Padlet or even Google Doc/Slide).
1. Were you able to create a houseboat that could hold weight, catch the wind, and travel one metre?
2. Do you think your design could scale upward and work as a full-size houseboat? Why or why not?