At Gouverneur Middle School, instead of sitting in classrooms, kids design their own hovercraft. Over 100 fifth graders designed, tested and then rode their hovercraft in the school gymnasium.
The Hovercraft Project is a day long hands on workshop which develops team building and problem solving skills. Students divided into 15 teams had to plan the steps to make the hovercraft go faster. They were powered by converted leaf blowers.
“It vibrates and it sounds funny. I was afraid it might explode,” said 10 year old Danielle Shattuck. Her teammate, Andre Lavoir, added, “It was fun, but a little scary when it went sideways.”
The project’s executive director, Matthew Chase, led the activity. He travels around the country with his wife and two daughters in a recreational vehicle, sharing The Hovercraft Project at schools.
“This shows them how to value themselves as part of a team so that they can create something larger than themselves,” Mr. Chase said. “They’re learning lifelong skills like how to be a leader.”
Heather Delity, the STEM teacher at the school, says that the project is a real hit with the students.
“Usually when you have this many kids you can’t keep them all engaged,” Ms. Delity said. “I’m amazed at how they’re all working with their teammates and staying engaged.”