NNPS Elementary Engineering Design Challenge Intro – Mariners’ Museum 2017


Good morning Newport News students! Welcome to the Mariners’ Museum and Park. Here, at America’s National Maritime Museum,
you can uncover mysteries of the past through engaging exhibits and historical artifacts. This includes discoveries about the Battle
of the Ironclads that took place in the waters of Hampton Roads. But what became of the USS Monitor and CSS
Virginia after their famous dual? Some of these mysteries, as in the case of
the USS Monitor, are buried at the bottom of the sea. Let’s learn how history is uncovered and
new discoveries are revealed at the Mariners’ Museum. You might remember from your reading, that
the USS Monitor sank in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of North Carolina. Take a look at the map; notice where you are
located in relation to where the USS Monitor is buried
today. When the shipwreck was first examined in 1974,
an underwater search pod was used to collect photos and footage of the wreck. These images helped scientists learn more
about the USS Monitor. Since it’s sinking in 1862, the wreck has
become a lively coral reef, home to many species of aquatic life. Teredo worms bore into the wooden deck and
sponges, corals, and sea fans attached themselves to the ship. If the ship were raised, it would disrupt this underwater
habitat. It’s the job of maritime archeologists,
who could be described as underwater historians, to determine which sunken artifacts are valuable
and should be recovered and restored. These archeologists work for the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, or NOAA. Over 200 tons of priceless artifacts have
been recovered from the shipwreck and are now located at the USS Monitor Center inside
Mariners’ Museum. Just to give you an idea, 200 tons is equal
to the weight of 20 school buses. As you can imagine that’s a lot of work;
therefore, maritime archeologists must be very knowledgeable about the items they decide
to recover. One of the most
exciting artifacts recovered is the Monitor’s revolving gun turret, which is now being conserved
safely in NOAA’s restoration lab. Now it’s your turn to work as a maritime
archeologist to complete an engineering design challenge in search of underwater discoveries. Good luck, Newport News fourth and fifth grade
students, and safe voyage.

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