Navigate Constitution!

Play this online game and navigate Constitution through the shoals! Be careful not to run aground – it’s trickier than it looks!

Making a Compass
and Magnetic Attraction

In this lesson, Constitution has been called to help another American ship in peril. Students are the Ship's new Navigators and must help direct the ship using cardinal directions and landmarks to reach the injured American ship, but there are many obstacles in their way. Students will learn that magnetic attraction and direction are related, and will use direction and locations with a homemade compass to help Constitution find her way. Use the real compass card for inspiration of your compass’ design.

Engineering and Technology:
The Wheel, the Rudder and Steering

What happens when the helmsman moves Constitution’s wheel? There’s a whole system that goes down to the rudder, a device that moves back and forth as a lever to guide and control, or steer, the ship.  Compare Constitution’s steering system to rudders in nature, for example, animals that swim. What part of their body works as a rudder? What helps them steer? Examples include sharks, fish, beavers, and whales. What other mechanical inventions, besides boats, require a rudder or a similar steering system?

Geocaching experience

Today, the Navy uses global positioning system (GPS) to help them navigate the high seas instead of a binnacle with a compass. Many of your students may already be familiar with the popular pastime of geocaching. Instead of using a compass, this experience utilizes GPS to find hidden containers, or geocaches, all over the world. There is likely one near you! Go on a geocaching adventure with your students or set up a new one at your school just for your students. Visit the Geocaching website to get started.

The Wheel

Who is steering the ship? Not the captain: he is busy with more important work. Not the sailing master, though he chooses the ship's course. Nor the Lieutenant, though he gives orders to the men holding the wheel. No, steering is a job shared by Constitution's 150 able seamen. Every "able" man can "hand, reef and steer" handle the sails, and guide the ship in the right direction. It isn't easy by day, and is harder still at night.

What Floats your Boat?

This simple scientific experiment allows students to make predictions and test them as they try to understand density, displacement, and ship design and how all of those contribute to a ship’s ability to float.

Using a Compass & Cardinal Directions

Play fun directional games with your students! These two games help students understand the cardinal points and give them practice with compasses. The more advanced game also encourages giving and listening to clear directions.