January 23rd marks Chinese New Year—the Year of the Dragon, lunar year 4710. Learners can engineer model dragon boats and learn more about Chinese history and culture in the Draggin’ Boats activity at Howtosmile.org.
Learners design, build, and test floatable models made from milk cartons, exploring how changes in design affect a boat's motion through water. Add an arts and craft component by having learners decorate their model boats. (They can get lots of ideas for decoration from Google Images.) Make a reading connection with the book Awakening the Dragon: The Dragon Boat Festival by librarian/dragon boat racer Arlene Chan.
Chinese sailors and navigators took ocean-going ships to india, Arabia, Africa and possibly even Australia. In the Out to Sea with Zheng He activity, learners rediscover the voyages of the best Chinese navigator of the 15th century, who commanded a fleet of more than 200 ships. Learners make their own simple compasses, to help them understand how such early explorers used the technology of the time to expand their world travels.
For more activities about science and China try Games from Around the World or Make Your Own Paper. SMILE activities available in Chinese also let learners explore coral reefs, the solar system, vision, glaciers and more.