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Delve Summer: Titanic

We've been choosing and pursuing passion projects over the summer for many years. Last year my son, who was 9, chose the Titanic as his focus. He began with library books on the subject - especially those with pictures and diagrams. He poured over these books and drew his own pictures - sometimes diagrams but often drawings of the Titanic sinking.

He became particularly curious about why the compartments failed. So, he built boats out of cardboard and duct tape and began to sink them - first in the bathtub and then, as they grew in size, in a specially donated kiddie pool.

In essence, he was trying to reverse engineer his ship to fail - although he would not have described it that way. He drew his friend into this work and together they built, revised and tested a number of ships. Through DELVE, he (and his buddy) gained the following learning:

  • Fairly in-depth knowledge about the Titanic

  • Practice with the engineering design process (imagine, design, build, test, observe, revise...)

  • The ability to stay with a project through challenges and failures

  • Experience with certain science concepts including balance and weight in water, the properties of water, shape and floating (or often, sinking)

  • Critical interpersonal skills including: negotiation and compromise, working through interpersonal disagreements, group problem solving - and more

This project contained the following activities:

  • Reading

  • Drawing and diagramming

  • Building (with another person - so accepting other ideas)

  • Testing

  • Revising

  • Cleaning up after the above (super important to parents everywhere!)

  • Explaining work to each other and to adults verbally, through writing/drawing, and demonstration

All the above occurred in fits and starts. Sometimes my son preferred to read or play with his model trains - and that's fine. But sometimes inspiration struck and he and his friend focused on new ideas and new observations. They worked all summer and produced many ships - one of which is pictured.

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