For the entire month of May, people around the US will celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage. This month is dedicated to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are influential in its future success. The people of this cultural background have made countless impacts in our modern-day world. One of those impacts was using the night sky to navigate the large oceans without the use of technology. An additional discovery of the Islanders was building a va’a (Samoan for canoe) to withstand the harsh waves and the brutal winds of the ocean while navigating the large bodies of water. So, channel your inner voyager because your challenge is to create and design a va’a that will not only float but move with the wind. What sort of material would be ideal to build the va’a and outrigger(the side piece of the va'a to help balance)? How tall should you make your sail? What material will catch the wind the best? The objective is to create a va’a that will not only float but reach its destination by wind.
A great idea to get you started would be to build a va’a using origami. Here is a link to a YouTube video with directions on how to do so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot_OXIXAsLk. Next try to find the best material to build a sail and mast. Finally build the outrigger to help balance the va'a and give it stability. The outrigger can be built similarly to the va'a, but just at a smaller scale.
Once your va’a is built, get ready to test your engineering. Grab a plastic container and fill it halfway with water. Then set up a fan (or just use your lungs) to give yourself some wind to test how well your va’a can travel in the wind.
Hints and Tips for Success
Advancing STEM Challenge for your classroom.
Let our Advancing STEM Challenges help your students discover the innovator in themselves.