A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

The Wheel

Anchor Icon

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. Not 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.

steer the ship game


Navigate Constitution

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

Game: Steer the Ship


Magnetic Attraction and Making a Compass

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.

Lesson Plan: Magnetic Attraction and Making a Compass

Object: Compass Card



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.