Boat Building





Name of Activity

Boat Building


Rachel Yu and Laura Nixon


boats, materials, float, water, weight, sinking, density, surface area, weight



Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

The students build boats out of different materials and then float them in water and

place pennies on the boats until they sink.

Lesson Objectives:

Determine what material and what shape of the boat will make the boat that holds the most pennies.

Materials Needed:

Tin foil, paper, clay (NOT play dough), LEGO pieces, popsicle sticks, tape, pennies, water and basin.

Preparation and Set Up:

 Discuss with your teacher how you will manage the testing. It can get a little messy with the water.

Necessary Background

Relevant Vocabulary:


Surface Area



For the first graders, we gave each group a different material and had them build a boat out

of it. Then, after their first trial, they could choose what material they thought would work

best and make another boat.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Devyn Curley:

    Katrina and I did this activity with 2nd graders, but just with tin foil. The focus was more on improving the structure over choice of material. The first tests held their attention, but because one of us had to help the students troubleshoot, only one of us could conduct the tests at a time. This caused a bottleneck at the testing step, causing many students to become bored with the activity. At the end we discussed what structures held the most weight and the misconceptions students had before the activity.

  2. Laura Coughlin:

    Freddy and I did this as our first lesson with our fifth grade class. They enjoyed it and it got them excited about STOMP. I would recommend bringing a lot of tin foil if you do this activity, because usually by the time the kids were ready to redesign and test, their tin foil was ripping. Also, I would recommend having several testing stations to try to reduce the amount of time the kids were waiting around to test their boats.

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