Powder Relay Competition

Turn your students into powder monkeys by imitating the powder passing from Constitution’s magazine up to the guns. The magazine was on the orlop deck, and the gunpowder needed to be passed all the way to the gun or spar decks. A real-life cartridge of gunpowder on Constitution weighed 6 to 8 lbs. In this relay game, students compete in teams to be the victorious crew!

Chemical Reaction: Student Research

Understanding the chemical reaction of gunpowder was vital aboard Constitution. Sailors wore felt slippers while in the magazine to avoid sparks or moisture. What other types of precautions might have sailors follwed with such a dangerous substance? Use the scientific method and learn about chemical processes by building cannons with your students in this Lesson Plan.

Copper Bottomed Ship

The use of copper below the waterline of Constitution was on the inside of the magazine and the outside of the ship’s hull. On the inside of the magazine, it was used to protect the gunpowder and on the outside of the Ship it was used to protect the hull below the waterline. View the image of Constitution’s copper lined hull and read the materials description. Check your local hardware store for a strip of copper, and find a block of wood. Have students compare the properties of each type of material. What are the pros and cons of using these materials in building a ship like Constitution?

The Magazine in Battle

Buried deep below Constitution's waterline was a strange, cramped, dark, place: the magazine. Copper lined the walls. The only light came through a window from a lantern in the next room. Sailors working here were forbidden to carry iron objects, and they wore felt slippers. These precautions were needed because the magazine was a store-room for gunpowder. If it got damp, Constitution's guns would not fire. And if just one spark entered the room, the ship might instantly explode.

Powder Running to the Guns

Can your students make it from the magazine to the guns avoiding all the obstacles in time? Try this online Powder Running game.