Odyssey of the Mind Curriculum Activity:
Playing the Float
Objective: Investigating forms of power from human energy to wordplay through hands-on projects.
Students will learn: Human power, storytelling, and adaptation.

Prep Time

1 hour

-- Class
-- Small groups

Art supplies
Note cards

Activity 1
A parade is a public march or procession honoring a certain occasion. There are countless themes for parades, many of which have become celebrated traditions. Paintings on cave walls depicted the earliest parades believed to be celebrations of hunters arriving home. The first recorded use of a float was in Athens during a 6 th Century parade in honor of the god Dionysus.

Floats have changed since then, especially concerning how they are powered. But what if animals or modern inventions could not be used? We would have to use our own power to move floats in parades.

As a class brainstorm ideas for new themes of parades, then vote for the class theme. Have students draw their own float that will follow the theme determined by the class. It also has to be powered by human energy, so have the students create and draw a character that will power the float. Put the drawings in a showcase at school, and have others guess the theme of the parade.

Activity 2
After the students have created the drawing of their own float and character, divide the class into groups. Have them write a story together that involves all three characters and their floats. They will take turns writing a portion of the story by playing a game.

The materials for the game are: a single die for each team and note cards with various words and phrases printed on them. The words and phrases could include vocabulary words, and/or words pertaining to floats, parades and human energy. The cards should be folded or turned upside-down so the players cannot see the words or phrases that are written on them.

The procedure for the game is: Each student must contribute to the story by rolling the die. If it is an even number, they must alter the plotline of the story. If it is an odd number, they must pick a card and use the word or phrase in their part of the story. Take turns until they feel the story is finished. Each group will read their story to the class. The group with the most creative story wins.

Activity 3
Discuss the three types of human power; direct, indirect and stored. An example of direct human power is a person using their hands and arms to turn the wheels on a wheelchair, or to push someone else in a wheelchair. Indirect human power would be a person using their feet and legs to turn pedals on a bicycle, which in turn moves the wheels. Stored power is something that gains power as it is being held or pushed on by a person, like a spring.

Then divide the class into three groups to recreate something that isn't human powered into something that is. Have each group choose a machine that does not rely on human power. They will then turn it into a human-powered machine, however the machine must keep the same objective. For example, a lawn mower uses an engine powered by gas. The students must create a device that will cut the grass, with a human power supply. Encourage them to be as creative as possible in reinventing the devices. Have them make a drawing showing how their human-powered machine works and present it to the class.