Rubber Duckies Heading for British Coast

(Repost from 07/03/2007)

I find this story to be interesting for several reasons. First, the mental picture I have of these toys washing overboard and floating around the world for the past 16 years makes me chuckle. Second, our children think this story is hysterical. Third, it’s cool that technology has made it possible to track these floatees as they’ve trekked the oceans of the world.

I know of examples of students tracking the migration patterns of whales, severe weather, earthquakes, sea turtles, sports teams, things in space, etc. but these rubber ducks bring an entirely new element of fun to such an activity.

For Discussion
What are some ways that you could extend this idea and integrate it into a lesson?

What technologies might be integrated into these kinds of activities?

Rubber Ducks

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

21 thoughts on “Rubber Duckies Heading for British Coast”

  1. It would be interesting if a class could find out the cities where the duckies landed. This would be a great group activity, each could be assigned a different location of the duckies landing. Then, track the info on a spreadsheet. Next, they could transpose this info into a bar graph. Finally, each group could share and embed the bar graph pictures onto a large map. Google Sheets could be used so that the students could all be working online together.

  2. a teacher could have the students track the ducks migration, and the ammount of days that it took them to float to a given point in their migration. Then the students could input the data into google pages, and calculate the ducks change in speed over the course of their trip.

    A step further would be to have the students make inferences about why the ducks sped up or slowed down, as well as predict where they will go next.

  3. I love this story! I can just picture standing on the coast and suddenly seeing a mass of rubber duckies floating by. I think this story would make a great geography lesson. The students could do a map showing the route of the ducks. They could do powerpoint presentations on the different places the ducks were spotted. What fun.

  4. I think it would be a great lesson on habitats in the ocean. Since the habitat in the ocean changes at different depth of the ocean floor, the children could research what oceanic creators exist at certain depths. The students could make a bar graph of the different depths and use an example of one of the sea creatures who are native to the ecosystem. The students could write a story and have a powerpoint presentation of the ducks meeting the different ocean creatures that tells a story of the specific creatures.

  5. The idea of learning something new and to add this new knowledge to another area is shown in this story. The same idea can be used when teaching numbers and calculate a trip expenses. You can control some of the activities and the general cost of these activities but you need to think about any possible uncontrolled event like missing a flight where extra hotel and flight change charges will take place. The duckies went through different weather conditions and other situations and they are still going somewhere. Probably I can create a game using airplanes, hotels, taxis, buses, museums and have the class play the game with some unexpected activities on their trip. This can be created using all kinds of technology like videos when arriving to an airport, taking a taxi, etc.

    I was thinking about this site that duplicates an airport:

  6. What are some ways that you could extend this idea and integrate it into a lesson?

    This would be a good science lesson. Since my experience is in early childhood, I would use this as a science lesson for younger children. I would do a ten minute powerpoint presentation on the story, and I would have a disscussion on these ducks and their discoloration due to sand water and sun ( especially scince my topic in my summer school class this week is sun water and sand). This would fit perfectly for that topic.

    What technologies might be integrated into these kinds of activities?

    I would use powerpoint for visuals, and for our weekly homework I would assign the children to print out a picture of a rubber duck off of the computer. We would discuss how sand water and sun affected the ducks and printing the picture off of the computer. This way the instruction can be on technology AND science at the same time.

  7. Researching this story online could give students a concrete (as it were) example of the ocean currents they study in physics or the probability theory they study in mathematics. We could explore the directions of the ducks, their velocity, why they float, and what forces sent them in various directions.

  8. Funny picture to put in my head! Students could tie this into the lesson by creating a digital map of the places that the ducks visited such as the routes that they took. They could also research the weather and tie it in with some of the obstacles the ducks faced going through the currents and weather whether good or bad. They could tie the sitaution in culturally by researching the different cultures, countries and group the ducks to those cultures and explain their differences and tell whether the different cultures had different ways of traveling.

  9. The implanting of a GPS sensor could definitely track the ocean currents, if one wanted to send them out to sea again. The students could also do research on the various islands and countries the ducks “visited”.

  10. With older students you could have them google-research the history of this story and the migration of the ducks and other toys that fell over board. With each article they found about this story, they could track the dispersal of the toys across the oceans. By creating a timeline they could see how the toys moved around the globe on their trek. Based on the timeline they could put together from the research of articles and stories from this accident, they could write a scenario of one of the toys as a creative writing project. The adventures of… with some criteria set out by the teacher as to the form their story should take. With these criteria the teacher could guide the students in their search for key articles etc.

  11. I found this story very intriguing. I think it would be interesting to do some Geography lessons around map skills with the ducks. We could also do some esimation of travel time and distane lessons. Finally, I think writing a story about their journey could be a great way to do creative writing.

  12. For classes dealing with world culture, the ducks’ routes could be used to guide culture lessons. Anyone remember Flat Stanley? Students could make ducks instead and decorate them with culturally-appropriate dress, flags, names of athletes or musicians, pictures of food, etc.

  13. This could easily be extended into a lesson about weather and global climate (as well as geography and oceanography). The students could use the internet to keep up with reports of the duckies’ whereabouts as well as any meteorological reports relating to them.

  14. This is a really cute story (I will probably tell my three and four year olds soon). We could turn this into all kinds of lessons: science, math, geography (the list could go on)! I to would love to do this as a science lessons, discussing the where the ducks where located and what the weather and seasons where like when they were there. It would be neat if we could track the ducks throughout the school year and have an on going project.

  15. What a great story. You could make an environmental lesson from it. What were the duckies made from and how long a life span does it have. How long will it stay in our environment even considering the effects of salt water. How could looking at this and looking at maritime disasters, like oil leaking, have world-wide affects.

  16. This story is absolutely darling! It reminds me of an activity that my mom did with her school. She’s an elementary school librarian and is constantly finding new ways to encourage her students to read. During my senior year of high school I got to aid in and witness the most amazing project. Every student was given a postcard that they wrote their name, age, and favorite book on. These cards also had the school’s address on them. At noon, every child got a bright red [biodegradable] balloon. The whole school counted to three and set their balloons free. About two weeks later the postcards came flooding back to the school with the names of the people that found them, their age and favorite book.

  17. I can’t believe I have never heard of this story. I worked in the import/export business for many years and have heard stories, but never this one. How cute it is. I feel that this could be integrated into a math lesson that dealt with predictions. The students would take the original number that fell overboard and then predict such numbers at how many would float to different shore lines in the world and how many would not survive and drown? I could also see a science lessonn about the durability of rubber duckies and the actual materials that it is made of. I could see using computers to download information, pictures and videos. I could see the use of spreadsheets, tables and power point presentations. The students could even make their own mini movie as their final presentation.

  18. This is such a fun story. I think it would be a fun activity to have the students write a story about the ducks’ travels. The student can include the weather of various parts of the country they ducks have been to. They students would integrate Internet research of weather patterns into their stories.

  19. I think a neat project would be to have classes write a story of how the “duckies” felt during their trip. From falling overboard, to those that ended up in the tropics, possibly those that got lost at sea, etc. It could be a joint project where each student was assigned a section of the story to write.

    Depending on what time of year (summer school vs regular school year) the students could blog about this, create podcasts, make PowerPoints, etc. Even as simple as word processing for the basic typing of the story.

    This is a little off base, but does anyone know where the ducks are? Have they ended their voyage? I did not see a link to update since the newcast from last summer. Just curious!

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