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The Castaway! (5 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Separating Mixtures, Density, Physical Properties, Phase Changes, Interdisciplinary, Culminating Project, Matter. Last updated July 18, 2018.


Summary

In this activity, students use their knowledge of the properties of matter to create and/or design items needed for survival on a deserted island.

Grade Level

Elementary or Middle School

Objectives

By the end of this activity, students should be able to

  • Classify matter based on its physical properties.
  • Analyze a given situation and determine how the physical property of certain substances can be used to solve a problem.
  • Use problem solving skills to analyze a problem, and constructively develop an approach to solve the problem.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Matter
  • Mixtures
  • Physical Properties
  • Density
  • Separating Mixtures
  • States of Matter
  • Observations
  • Engineering

Time:

Teacher Preparation: 20 minutes (collection of materials)

Lesson: 60-90 minutes

Materials

  • Plain printer paper (1 per student) to draw inventions
  • Island Castaway sheet
  • Pencils
  • Markers/crayons
  • Items need for 3-D model (optional)

Safety

  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This activity is an excellent alternative to traditional assessment for older elementary or middle school students, at the culmination of a unit that taught students about the physical properties of matter including: mass, magnetism, physical state (solid, liquid, and gas), relative density (sinking and floating), solubility in water, separation of mixtures and the ability to conduct or insulate thermal or electrical energy.
  • This activity can be done in-class, at-home, or a combination of both, individually or collaboratively. Each student should be provided a copy of the student handout
  • If the activity is to be completed in class, then some of the items from the survival list items can be provided and students allowed to make a model of their planned invention.
  • To lead into the activity and build excitement, the movie trailer from the movie Castaway YouTube can be shown.
  • To differentiate, the number of scenarios required can be modified for lower learners, while students who need more of a challenge can be required to do all scenarios, or make it mandatory that they build a model for each scenario they choose.
  • When I complete this activity, I provide each student with a piece of white printer paper that we fold in half. This gave the students space for the drawing as well as space for listing the objects they have used.

For the Student

Background

You have been stranded on a deserted island. With only your surroundings and the items in your bag, you will need to complete at least four of the various survival scenarios using your knowledge of the properties of matter to determine how items in your bag can assist you in surviving.

Procedure

  1. Review the lists of your surroundings and the items in your bag. These are the only items you have on the island.
  2. Review the Survival Scenarios and pick at least four scenarios.
  3. Make a list of the specific items selected for each scenario.
  4. Use your knowledge of the properties of matter to select items and create and/or design items that will help you survive for each scenario. Use only items you have on the island.
  5. Include a detailed, labeled drawing or a 3-D model of what you created or designed to help you survive for each scenario.
  6. Include a written explanation of why you chose the objects you did, how you created or designed your item, and how the item assisted you in surviving.

Mission

Use your knowledge of the properties of matter to create and/or design items needed for survival on a deserted island.

Survival Items

Surroundings

Items in Your Bag

  • Sun
  • Sand
  • Ocean water with shells and fish
  • Trees
  • Coconuts
  • Rocks of various shapes and sizes
  • Knife
  • Metal pot
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fur from a bear
  • Paper clip
  • Foam
  • Knit sweater
  • Metal-toed shoes
  • Balloon
  • Hairbrush
  • Gummy bears
  • Plastic bowl
  • Package of four Golf balls
  • Black paint

Survival Scenarios (choose 4)

  • Scenario #1: Create freshwater so you have something to drink.
  • Scenario #2: Design a way to keep yourself warm during the cold nights.
  • Scenario #3: Create a way to separate sand from seashells.
  • Scenario #4: You found cool water on a hike. Design a container that will keep the water cool.
  • Scenario #5: Design a way to catch fish.
  • Scenario #6: Explain how you will cook food in the evening.
  • Scenario #7: Design a tool to stir hot items.
  • Scenario #8: Determine which objects you will use to hold down your shelter.

Analysis

Remember you need to complete the following for each of the survival scenarios that you choose:

  • Make a list of the specific items selected for each scenario.
  • Use your knowledge of the properties of matter to select items and create and/or design items that will help you survive for each scenario. Use only items you have on the island.
  • Include a detailed, labeled drawing or a 3-D model of what you created or designed to help you survive for each scenario.
  • Include a written explanation of why you chose the objects you did, how you created or designed your item, and how the item assisted you in surviving.