How Many Sailors Can Sleep at the Same Time?

How many sailors could sleep on the berth deck at the same time? To answer this question, students will view a primary source and calculate the area of the berth deck and the average size of a sailor and a hammock.

Copper-Bottomed Ship

Find out why the bottom of USS Constitution is covered in copper and discuss the merits of copper versus wood in ship design.

Activity: Write a Secret Message

Learn how to write a secret message using 19th century invisible ink: lemon juice and heat! This activity is inspired by a real-life secret message written by Commodore William Bainbridge while he was held captive in Tripoli in 1803.

A Flawed Launch to a Flawless Career

A lesson in “if at first you don’t succeed, try again:” it took USS Constitution three tries to be launched into Boston Harbor in 1797.

Objects Up Close: Day or Night Telescope

“Day or night” telescopes were commonly used aboard ships in the early 1800s. The large objective lens was designed to increase the amount of light allowed in, making dim images at night appear visible from a distance. Learn more in this video.

Making a Compass & Magnetic Attraction

Students will learn about magnets and compasses, how to use a compass to write directions, and how to read a map. Students will apply what they learned about directions to how Constitution sailors steered the ship at sea in 1812.

How High is that Similar Triangle?

This lesson teaches students to use similar triangles and congruent angles with “shadow reckoning” to find out the height of a tall object on your school grounds. It is inspired by the maintop on USS Constitution, where some of the crew were stationed 85 to 90 feet above the deck during battle.

Coopers: Building a Barrel

The cooper was one of the skilled sailors on board USS Constitution: he knew how to make and repair barrels. This was important because barrels held most of the crew’s food and water. In this lesson, learn about the cooper and the other tradesmen on the Ship, and make a craft barrel with your students.

Build an Alka-Seltzer Cannon

Using Alka-Seltzer tablets and canisters, students will produce a chemical change to recreate the loading and firing of a gun on Constitution.

Reloading Relay

Students learn about the responsibilities of the Marines on USS Constitution during battle. Students are then given a challenge: work in teams to use measurements and solve common denominator fraction math problems to “battle” each other in a reloading relay.

Simple Machines and Basic Science

USS Constitution was built as a fighting machine and the crew used the six simple machines of science to accomplish the work required. Thinking like designers and engineers, students will identify and manipulate these machines to create inventions that would have made life aboard the Ship easier for the crew.

Team Building Challenge

Students will experience the challenges of working as a team to build a “hidden” structure. They will use communication and teamwork, just as Constitution sailors on a Gun Team needed to do when exercising or firing a gun during battle.

Telling Time on a Ship

Students make a half hour glass that measures time just like on a naval vessel in 1812. This lesson integrates math, using 24-hour time, telling time in other ways besides a clock, and the nautical term of “watches”.