Mary Celeste


This one ties in with the Nelson resource for this course.

1.  Play the first 2:42 of this video.

2.  Ask the students what they wonder about.  They will most certainly wonder about what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste.

3. Ask them to think of a theory on their own, and write it down.

4. Ask them what further information they require.  They will most likely suggest that the video didn’t give them all the details.  Provide the following facts, which I have taken from Page 5 of Principles of Mathematics 11 (Nelson, 2011).

  • The ship’s hull was not damaged.
  • No crew or passengers were on board.
  • No boats were on board.
  • Ropes were dangling over the sides of the ship.
  • Only one of the two pumps was working.
  • The forward and stern hatches were open.
  • Water was found between the decks.
  • The only dry clothing was found in a watertight chest.
  • Kitchenware was scattered and loose in the galley.
  • The galley stove was out of place.
  • No chronometer or sextant was found on board.  Both of these instruments are used for navigation.
  • The ship’s clock and compass were not working.
  • The ship’s register was missing. The ship’s register is a document that notes home port and country of registration.
  • The ship’s papers were missing.  These papers could have included a bill of sale, ownership information, crew manifest and cargo information.
  • The cargo, 1701 barrels of commercial alcohol, had not shifted.  When unloaded in Genoa, 9 barrels wer found to be empty.
  • The alcohol was not safe to drink, but it could have been burned.

5. Let the students work in pairs to formulate a conjecture about what happened.

6. Have students share their theories with other groups. Normally the answer video would be played here.  Unfortunately, the answer to this one is unknown.  The best we can give them is this more detailed video. You could play the one below in its entirety.

7. Teacher summarizes what a conjecture is.

Have fun with this one.

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