Hunger Games Boat Float

This program fit into the water unit in the Teen Reading Program 2014. The basic idea for this program was mentioned at the summer reading training program we attended in the spring, but the former youth facilitator and I decided to expand the idea to make it more interesting.

The basic premise is that the teens will compete to make a boat out of recycled materials provided in the program. This boat must float longer than their competitors’, and, if there is a tie, quarters will be added one at a time until the weight causes one boat to sink and a winner is declared.

But that would be too simple. So, we decided to shake things up with a Hunger Games theme!

In the center of the room, we put a cornucopia of recycled materials. Around the cornucopia, we set up work stations for the teams of teens. Each work station had an equal number of recycled materials that they could use as well as anything they would accumulate throughout the game. We chose to give each team a DVD case, two paperclips, two glue dots, scissors, two 6-inch pieces of string in a bag as well as paper and a pencil for sketching plans. You could also assign your teams district numbers and have a bag with their corresponding number in the cornucopia with their allotted materials inside.

In our cornucopia, we had an empty stapler, egg cartons, cardboard, strips of leather, string, tape, and anything else would could find that might float or help attach the materials to one another. It was covered with a tarp when the teens arrived.

Once the teens arrived, we explained the rules for the game:

  1. You are the build a boat that floats with the help of your team Each boat must be made from at least six materials that are attached to each other, and the boat must be made within the twenty-five minute time allotment.
  2. If there is a tie and more than one boat floats, quarters will be added to weigh down the boats, and the last remaining boat floating will win.
  3. Each team has been equipped with equal resources to begin with, and they will each be given six inches of tape. You must use everything in your bag.
  4. Each group may take up to five items from the cornucopia after the countdown to bring back to their station and use to build their boat.
  5. Teams may barter with one another for assistance and to procure other materials.
  6. You may only use materials provided for this project–you cannot use anything you may happen to have with you.
  7. There are surprises hidden around the room that may help you accomplish your task. If you find one, present it to the Game Maker (a.k.a. Me) so that you can use your advantage.
  8. There will also be help from “sponsors” throughout the game, just as in The Hunger Games.

Then, we asked for questions, unveiled the cornucopia, and counted down from 5 before the participants could begin choosing their items. After that, the building commenced!

Some of the cards we hid around the room included:

  • You’ve been injured in an attack. You’re stunned and dizzy. (Each person on your team must do three spins around a bat before continuing to work.)
  • You managed to trap a rabbit for dinner using only some sticks and a vine. Good job! (Add 5 minutes to your time allotment.)
  • You’ve received a gift from your sponsor (We hid three of these and gave out gifts randomly like extra tape, glue, staples for the empty stapler that was in the cornucopia, pipe cleaners, brads, string, or extra paper clips.)
  • You managed to steal one of your opponent’s weapons while they were sleeping. (Take one item from an opposing team to build your float.)
  • Under the cover of darkness, you manage to sneak back to the cornucopia to replenish your supplies. (Take another item from the cornucopia to build your float.)
  • Either your mentor is mad at you or your sponsors are clueless. You’ve just received a worthless gift. (Get a bag of heavy coins from the Game Maker that you must incorporate into your float.)
  • The other tributes snuck up on you while you were sleeping, and you were seriously injured. (You’ve lost the use of your left hand for the rest of the game. We forced this teen to wear an oven mitt on their left hand to ensure they didn’t use it.)
  • You’ve managed to steal some game from one of the other tribute’s traps, benefitting you and sabotaging them. (You can give one of your materials to another team that they must use to make their boat.)

After their twenty-five to thirty (depending on the cards they drew) time allotment was over, we had them put their boats in a bin of water to determine which floated.

Even though I planned this program, I was unable to be there when it took place. I heard that the teens loved it, and when they saw that I was doing a Hunger Games program for the fall semester, they wanted to know if we were repeating this program because it was so much fun. Everyone kept telling me it was a huge hit!

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