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Winning Lesson Plan
Solve a Problem; Build a Boat

Subject: Psychology
Grade: 6-8

Brief Description

Students build a boat that will float and hold as many pennies as possible, then discuss the process of building the boat and relate the experience to experiences they encounter in life.


Students come to understand that they can control some things in their own lives, but they cannot control other people's lives. They will learn to model their behavior after other people who demonstrate a positive outlook.


conflict resolution, cooperation, teamwork

Materials Needed

drinking straws cut in half, masking tape, container of water, pennies

Lesson Plan

  • Ask students to select a partner or assign partners.
  • Provide each pair with ten straw halves and as much masking tape as they need.
  • Explain that the object of the lesson is to build a boat that will float. Tell students that the activity will end in a contest, and the boat that can hold the most pennies without sinking will win.
  • Allow students 15 to 20 minutes to build their boats.
  • One at a time, have each pair of students put their boats in a container of water. Place pennies on each boat until it tilts, sinks, or spills the pennies. Have students chart the number of pennies each boat holds.

After students have tested each craft, ask the following questions:

  • What were you able to control during the construction?
  • What did you have no control over?
  • If you could do this again, would you change the way you built your craft? Why or why not?


  • What things in your life can you control?
  • What do you have no control over?
  • If your actions, behaviors, or efforts in a particular area are not successful, do you keep doing the same thing or do you make changes?
  • Have you ever learned a new way of doing something by watching someone who was successful?
  • What changes can you make today to become more successful?


Evaluate students based on their responses during class discussions and on their behavior after the lesson.

Lesson Plan Source

Sherrell Bailey, ([email protected]) Sumter County Middle School, Americus, Georgia



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