Uploaded by amoders


ASSIGNMENT NAME: Ranking Survival Supplies
Premise: Imagine you are on your way to the vacation of a lifetime: an all-expenses
paid trip to Hawaii. Midway through the flight, you experience significant turbulence that
causes the captain to turn on the “fasten seat belts” light. You comply with the request
when suddenly the oxygen masks drop from above, pegging you on the head like
yellow, plastic hail. Instinctively you pull the lifeline to your face, but you feel the free-fall
from high altitude turning your insides into one of those cheap, carnival rides that
usually induce whiplash. As a result, it takes you a few extra seconds before the sweet
smell of oxygen flows through your nostrils. The extra jolt of oxygen (normal air is
usually only 1 part oxygen to 3 parts nitrogen) reinvigorates your senses, and you use
this heightened awareness to rip open the window cover and investigate the
surroundings outside the plane.
You shouldnʼt have.
The water is that magical shade of turquoise that you only used to see in reruns of Lost,
but itʼs currently approaching you at somewhere just south of 9.8 m/s² (acceleration of
gravity). You claim to do some quick math and predict that the plane will hit the water in
about 7 seconds, but really youʼre just about to lose control of your bowels. Just when it
really is about to hit the fan, so to speak, your ears percolate to the sounds of someone
who shouldnʼt sound this scared.
“This is the captain speaking!” He sounds terrified, and you long for the monotone
pleasantries he was making as the plane was approaching the hackneyed 35,000 feet.
“Brace yourself for a water landing.”
You really should be more scared, but you let out the only phrase that could possibly
exit your lips at that moment. “YOU CAN DO IT, SULLY! I BELIEVE IN YOU!” Wishful
thinking maybe, but maybe some other dope whoʼs already succumbed to the
aforementioned bowel control issues will forget that Sully retired after the Hudson River
Miracle and take solace and comfort in your ironic, pre-death, verbal masochism.
You awake to the smell of sea water along with the surprising tepidity of the Pacific
“You awake?” interrogates a voice that sounds broken and helpless.
“Sully did it!” Youʼre sure youʼre alive, and youʼre equally certain that Captain
Sullenberger came back for one last flight to save your life.
You peer over to the other side of the boat to see a quizzical Captain. The wings on his
shirt give him away, and you vaguely recognize his voice as the one who helpfully let
the crew know that we were all about to take an aquatic bath.
“Thanks for patronizing me,” the Captain says shooting you a look of disdain, “but no,
our water landing was not very successful.”
Your eyes squint as you open them with the high sun casting a brilliant light into your
corneas. You look around your inflatable boat for the first time to see no one else.
“There were other lifeboats for the passengers, but we were unable to tie off. We are
scattered around, and none has a beacon to alert Search and Rescue of our location.
Because we are likely to float several miles from the wreckage, thereʼs no telling if weʼll
ever be found. Theyʼre not going to send out search planes until they do not receive my
check in. It could be 5 hours or more, and thereʼs no telling how far weʼll have traveled
in this current.”
The news hits you like a loaded 777 smashing into the ocean. Unwilling to succumb to
the despair, you take a look around to take stock of the situation. In the distance you
see what surely must be a mirage.
Apparently the Captain sees it too by his silent gaze in the same direction.
“Letʼs go!” you exclaim, searching for paddles.
“Wait a second now!” the Captain counters. “There are others in lifeboats like ours that
are better supplied. With the island so far away, I think itʼs better to move in the
direction of the other passengers and tie off. We need to stay together.”
“But you donʼt even know where they are! We know the island is right over there.” You
point east.
“Listen, there might be a way for us to do both,” the Captain explains, “thereʼs a
secondary raft in here that you could take to the island. I can inflate it, you can hop in
that one with the oars, and I can take the other set of oars and begin working my way
back to the other group.”
You are interested but taken aback by the suggestion to split up a group in the middle of
the largest body of water on Earth. “What if I make it to the island, and you never show
up? What supplies am I supposed to use? How would I survive.”
The Captain has a quick answer. “There are some supplies on this raft and some items
I found floating from the wreckage. Letʼs take stock of what we have, then we can split
it up to ensure we both survive this ordeal.”
(As a point of reference, you could actually omit that entire story, give a synopsis, and
then begin the activity here. I just wanted to make sure you have a story to fully engage
your kids on day 1, and that one has never failed. It actually only takes about 4 minutes
to build up this activity, and they have a great time with it).
At this point, split the students into groups of 3. I find that groups any larger than 3 tend
to become quite inefficient. With 3 people, everyone has a job to do. With 4, someone
inevitably finds a way to not do a job.
Because you have to choose only the most necessary items from the following list, itʼs
extremely important to rank these items from most useful to most useless. The better
you select your list of items, the higher probability you have of surviving the trip to the
island and surviving once you arrive on the island.
Have students spend at least 8 minutes discussing (believe me, theyʼll want to spend
more time on it), debating, and ranking the items on the list. Filter around the room and
insist everyone use the group membersʼ names each time they address them. This
repetition will ensure a quick camaraderie and a smooth peer learning environment
throughout the year.
1.) 12-pack of Coke
2.) Flashlight
3.) Batteries for flashlight
4.) Vanity mirror with make-up
5.) Flares
6.) Sunscreen
7.) Salt Tablets
8.) 1 18-oz Canteen
9.) Matches
10.) Life jacket
11.) Knife
12.) 12 foot square plastic tarp
13.) Dental Floss
14.) 8-oz. bag of Beef Jerky
15.) First-aid kit
16.) iPhone (87% battery remaining)
Whatʼs so fun about this activity is the varied responses. You are going to get extremely
entertaining discourse among the tables. My favorite discussion item is always about
the iPhone. 6 hours of Angry Birds vs. Signal Flares seems like an easy call, but youʼd
be surprised by the rationale of some middle and high school students.
As the facilitator of these discussions, itʼs your job to purposely torpedo the
conversations of one table. It doesnʼt matter which table in particular, but you need to
hover over their discussion and try and keep them as off task as possible. Talk about
their summer vacations. Talk about yours. Talk about how nice it would be to actually
be stranded on an uninhabited island: no parents, no homework, fresh seafood, etc. It
doesnʼt really matter exactly how you do it, but you need to make sure that they are
mostly unable to dissect each of the 16 items and their merits.
When there is approximately 1 minute left, hastily give them the “correct answers” of the
rankings with no explanation and say, “Youʼre welcome for the right answers. You guys
are going to look really smart.”
Initiate a discussion, group by group in front of the class, with each team member taking
a portion of their groups conversation and summarizing it for the class with their
rankings. You will be amazed, entertained, perplexed, and horrified by some the
rankings and their respective rationales. The students will love it, and you will be having
the best first day of school youʼve ever experienced. Save the group you “helped” for
Your group will, just as hastily as you gave them the “correct” answers, regurgitate the
appropriate list with absolutely no reasoning behind the choices. It will appear odd.
The rest of the class will be puzzled. You will then prompt, “why donʼt you have any
explanations to go along with your choices?” Your group will announce to the dismay of
everyone, “Mr. SoAndSo gave us all the right answers.” You will now be subjected to a
torrential downpour of boos, hisses, and verbal rotten tomatoes. Weather the storm, as
the punchline and learning moment is about to shine.
Silently walk around the room and take all paper or written evidence regarding the
survival item ranking discussion and put it away in your desk. Do not tell them why, just
make sure no one has any visual regarding this experiment. Then, ask all groups to
take out a fresh sheet of paper and rewrite all 16 items with the way they ranked them
to the best of their abilities. Tell them to do this as silently as possible.
What youʼll find is that each team will be remarkably close to reproducing the entire 16item list and in the order in which they originally ranked them. Well to be fair, not all the
teams will be as successful. The one you helped will perform wretchedly. It will be like
they never even saw the list. As a percentage, you are nearly guaranteed to see your
group fail miserably at this test of memory.
Each group will see this failure, and the room will grow surprisingly pensive for a first
day of school. Youʼll ask the class, “why.” Why canʼt they remember many of the items?
Why canʼt they remember the rankings very well? Why does every other team perform
so much better by such a wider margin? The answers will start to trickle in, and you
should let these answers develop organically.
-They did not receive the opportunity to have the interesting discourse about the items
that every other team did.
-They were given the “right” answers with no real context behind “why” they were the
correct answers.
-They were able to read a sheet of paper, but those words meant nothing and their
minds discarded the information as useless almost as soon as the words exited their
-They werenʼt actually having that much fun. The teacher was asking them about
mundane summer happenings that no one really cares to recount. Chances are the
students in the group didnʼt even recall in great detail what each person did. Those
conversations were hollow while the other groupʼs conversations were deep and
Pensive indeed. At this point youʼll want to make the following declarations.
-It is my charge as a teacher to ensure you learn.
-I just showed you a real world example of how “learning” and “having the right answer”
are completely different things.
-I cannot spoon feed you answers.
-You must interact with information in order for your knowledge base to grow.
-If you try and take shortcuts in this class or in life, you will look like a fool sooner rather
than later.
-Learning in a dynamic environment is actually fun.
-We will have fun in this class, therefore we will be learning.
Now, based on your content area, you can use extensions to delve deeper into this
icebreaker. In Mathematics, we calculate averages for the rankings of each item to see
how the class perceives their usefulness. In English, students could write a paragraph
reflecting on the purpose of the activity or a first-person narrative of what you would be
thinking as you were rowing up to that uninhabited island. In Science, students could
list the flora and fauna they would expect to find on an island given the climate. In
Social Studies, students could compare the splitting of those 16 items and how this
differs from the resource “sharing” agreement between the USSR and former Iron
Curtain Eastern European countries. You would have to adjust these activities based
on your grade level, of course, but the opportunities for extensions are abundant.
At this point youʼre probably demanding “ROGERS! Give me the answers to the
original question. What are the most important items on the original list?” I have listed
the original items below in roughly the order they should be chosen along with an
explanation. The kids will find these very interesting if you have time to discuss.
1.) 1 18-oz Canteen
As is well publicized, your body can survive for weeks without food, but your body
(comprised of 60% water) can only function for around 2 days without H₂0. You cannot
be concerned with rescue if youʼre dehydrated or dead, so water acquisition must be
your primary concern. Without any method of storing the beautiful waves of rain that fall
daily in tropical climes, you would be hard pressed to survive. During a rain, you can
use your clothes to absorb the water. Then you can squeeze it out into your canteen for
use during the sunny parts of the day.
2.) Vanity mirror with make-up
Now that you have water, rescue is now your top priority. The foundation and blush
wonʼt be as useful as the compact mirror attached. Believe it or not, this is the most
useful signaling device you could ever ask for. Assuming you donʼt break it, this is like
having an unlimited supply of signal flares. On a clear day, potential rescuers can spot
a mirror “flash” from up to 15 miles away.
3.) 12 foot square plastic tarp
This has many uses, and itʼs this utility that puts it so high on the list. You can create a
type of shade with it by attaching articles of clothing, and this will aid in shielding you
from the sun. You can use it to more efficiently collect rainwater. You can use it as a
surface to cleanly prepare food.
4.) Knife
Upon arrival at the island, a knife would be invaluable. Cutting brush to form shelter,
creating hunting and fishing tools, cleaning and preparing food, and making campfires
are not easily done without a knife.
5.) Flashlight
Normally a flashlight would be just below the Vanity mirror, but the requirement of using
another item slot for batteries bumps it below the plastic tarp and knife. Flashlights are
useful for signaling at night, and so long as you only use the flashlight in emergencies
and for signaling, they should last for around 100 hours. It is this long lifespan that
pushes a flashlight above the flares, which are of course only a one-time use. You must
be careful not to get this wet!
6.) Batteries for flashlight
See above.
7.) First-aid Kit
Uncleaned wounds can expedite disease, weakness, and death, so a First-aid Kit is
going to be something youʼll need in the event the rescue does not come as soon as
you would have hoped. These kits usually also have tweezers and scissors, which can
come in handy for other uses.
8.) Life Jacket
In the event you are unable to reach the island, a life jacket will keep your weak body
from drowning in the event your capsule is capsized. Rough seas are a definite
possibility, and after several days without food, an exhausted human may have trouble
reentering the life raft.
9.) 12-pack of Coke
Carbonated beverages are less efficient in hydration, so you wouldnʼt want to drink this
if water were readily available. After drinking the cans, you would have 12 more semiclosed containers that could store more water. Also, the shiny aluminum could be
helpful when fishing when cut into small pieces with your knife.
10.) Dental Floss
Now that immediate health, rescue, and water concerns have been ameliorated to the
best of this listʼs abilities, you must start thinking about long-term survival. Dental floss
is strong enough to be used as fishing line, and marine life will likely be your source of
food. You can use your knife to cut any shiny pieces of plastic off your life jacket to use
as a lure.
11.) Flares
Given their finite nature, flares are more of a luxury given your access to the mirror and
flashlight. However, these offer a more brilliant light in the event of potential rescue.
12.) Sunscreen
Another finite, luxury item that isnʼt totally necessary if you use the tarp and cloth as a
sunshield. Nonetheless, using this to prevent excessive water loss and blisters that can
fester can be very helpful.
13.) Matches
Access to fire is great for morale, useful for signaling, and helpful when cooking, so
these are still a good resource. There is only one box, and you canʼt be certain youʼll
make it to the island, so thatʼs why they are near the bottom.
14.) 8-oz. bag of Beef Jerky
Even if rationed out properly, 8-oz. of food is still not an amount that will move the dial in
terms of long-term survival. However, this can be used as bait that could help you when
15.) iPhone (87% battery remaining)
Even Verizonʼs “can you hear me now?” man would be unable to find a cellular signal in
the middle of the Pacific. The mirror is a more effective device for signaling, the battery
could only last for about 24 hours in the best of conditions, and the only possible use
would be if one of the apps loaded on the iPhone was entitled “Survival Guide.”
16.) Salt Tablets
The condition of “hyponatremia” or low sodium concentration is that result of excessive
sodium loss due to high-volume loss of fluids (mostly sweat). Given that you will be
taking it easy on your boat and in the island and not running any triathlons, you have
absolutely no use for salt tablets except potentially for seasoning. Your body can
control the sodium and water balance if you give it enough water. Salt tablets are just
going to dehydrate you further.
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