Gentry students learn about exploration – Mount Airy News


Brody Cassell is focused and carefully following the instructions to create his astrolabe.

Submitted photo

Students in Jamie Mosley’s seventh grade classes at Gentry Middle School recently completed enrichment activities that supported the unit they were studying, The Age of Exploration.

Mosley said the hands-on/mind-on Navigational Tools activity integrated goals from both science and social studies curriculum for her students. Each student independently undertook a series of tasks that led them to create navigational tools similar to those once used by early sailors.

Mosley said the activity enriched her students’ understanding of the importance of exploration, its global impact, and the technology and tools that were used during that time in history.

Students first made a working compass using a magnet, water, a bottle cap, and a needle. Next, they created a sundial. By using the compass, students were able to point the sundial in the correct direction to tell the current time.

Finally, students created an astrolabe. The astrolabe is used to determine the latitude of a ship at sea by measuring the altitude of the sun or a star. Once students successfully created these tools, they were led to compare and analyze today’s maps with those sailors used early on.

Last, students created “ships” made from paper and powered by the wind. Student observations were tied to discussions about larger ships, speed, control, and even living conditions.

“My students were engaged in cooperative learning while maintaining social distancing,” Mosley said. “They explored and concluded how technology innovations have changed and improved over time.”