Floating Oranges – “Orange you going to Wear Your Life Jacket?”

Name of Activity: Floating Oranges

The floating orange demonstration was well received at the 16th Annual International Boating and Water Safety Summit in San Diego, CA. Enclosed is program/presentation guide designed to assist boating and water safety educators in demonstrating the importance of wearing life jackets utilizing oranges.

Purpose of Activity: This activity is use to show children and adults the importance of wearing life jackets.

Materials Needed: Several oranges/tangerines, aquarium or clear container, small vessel is optional.

Description of Idea: Have children or adults get into groups to take part in the orange floats demonstration. Throw an unpeeled orange/tangerine into the clear container filled with water. It will float perfectly on the surface. Explain that the orange represents a person wearing a life jacket that has entered the water. The children/adults can take part by writing their name on the orange.

Next peel the orange explaining that this represents a swimmer or boater taking off their life jacket. Ask the participants what will happen when they do so? The unpeeled orange will immediately sink to the bottom of the container representing a person in trouble in the water. The person is a poor swimmer and drowns. Note the orange peel will float on the surface representing the life jacket they took off. The children/adults can peel their own orange (gives ownership to demonstration).

Next wrap a peeled orange in the orange peeling. This represents a swimmer or boater that is wearing an improperly fitting life jacket. The peeled orange when placed in the water will then come out of the peeling and sink to the bottom and the peel floats on the surface.

A small vessel can be used as well. One can demonstrate the boat capsizing and the occupants entering the water. The boaters (unpeeled oranges) with life jackets on float and the peeled oranges (person without life jackets sink) drown.

Assessment Ideas: Ranger/teacher demonstrates the importance of wearing life jackets and the importance of swimming well to prevent drowning.

Credit: Toni Scott, Physical Education Teacher, Lakeside School, Hot Springs, Arkansas and Brian Westfall, Executive Vice President, National Water Safety Congress, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Lakes