First thing I would do is a Google search for web quests about sailing. I started to do them to send you some links, but it all depends on what grade you are teaching. If they are already out there, why recreate the wheel?
If that doesn't work for you, do some research on sailing and see what you find. Maybe that will generate some ideas for you.
When you mention sailing, the first thing that comes to mind for me is Pythagorean Theorem. That doesn't do anything with the history, unless the sails have become bigger or smaller. Have they added more sails? How does wind speed effect the sails? You would probably need to factor in the area of the sails too. Honestly, I do not know ANYTHING about sailing so I may be way off base here.
As a last resort, I would choose something other than sailing. If you have a difficult time finding the information, odds are your students will too. I suggest doing a search for web quests that are grade level appropriate. You will be able to integrate technology into the lesson, which the kids love. My 8th graders complete web quests for me on a quarterly basis.
There is alot of math in the calculation of longitude especially early on..
sails are triangles
a person looking at the top of the sail. what is the missing angel
different sails. different mass different time of getting there beacause of the different things... (chain reaction)
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