Students learn about the science and physics behind tubing, as well as the native flora and fauna that exist in the lake or river’s environment.
Gliding across a lake at top speeds, gripping tightly to the handles of your inner tube, bouncing and soaring over ripples and waves, water spraying your face – this is water tubing on a lake while being towed by a speed boat. To many, this is the ultimate warm weather activity. Others may prefer floating leisurely down a lazy river, arms and hands dangling effortlessly over the inner tube into the water below, gazing through the clear water to the fish and rocks below, and peering up into the branches flanking the river and camouflaging local wildlife – this is free-floating water tubing on a river. Whether you are enjoying the fast paced, adrenaline pumping excitement of towed tubing or the relaxing, slow pace of free-floating tubing, science is all around you. Whether it’s the physics behind how you stay afloat or become airborne, or it’s the ecology of the environment and its flora and fauna, tubing provides endless opportunities for learning about science.
BEFORE YOU GO• Explore students’ prior knowledge about tubing. Review any scientific terms relating to the physics of tubing. Also, review the plant life and animal life that are native to the area you’ll be visiting. Provide students with visual representations to help them identify these native plants and animals while on their trip.
• Review relevant vocabulary and key terms: buoyancy, gravity, acceleration, environment
• Call ahead to the tubing company and inquire about maps and information about the river or lake the students will be exploring.
WHAT TO WONDERQuestions to ask staff: What living organisms can be seen in the water? What animals can be seen in the trees or along the bank of the river?
Describe your surroundings. What do you see? What do you hear?
Observe the current of the river or the waves (if any) of the lake. Notice what changes the current or waves.
Opinion: Which form of tubing do you prefer? Why?
Compare the control a tuber has while free-floating and the control a tuber has while being towed.
Challenge: Predict whether the size and shape or the tube would affect its buoyancy. What about the size and shape of the tuber?
Discuss how the movement of the tube changes depending on the speed of the boat or the waves/ripples that are present.
Discuss why this happens.
Project: Create a brochure for the area of the river that tubers float down. Include information and images of the flora and fauna that a tuber can see while tubing.
Research the origin of water tubing and its invention by a princess in Thailand.
Social Impact: The opportunity to enjoy water tubing on a hot day is a luxury that not everyone is given. In fact, many people around the world don’t have clean water to drink, let alone play in. Be thankful for the clean water you have access to – for drinking or recreation – and get involved in one of the many organizations trying to provide clean water to everyone around the world.