Building Model Boats

Our 7th-9th graders in our Española River Classroom visited NMWC last Friday for another day learning about kayaks and water. We’re almost ready to start building real kayaks, but we decided that first we need to test some models of different types of boats.

Before getting out our building supplies, we had a quick refresher on density and buoyancy. We filled cylinders of a known volume (which we calculated) with different objects. After weighing them, we calculated the density. We compared these to the density of water and guessed whether or not they would float. We then tested our hypothesis. Thanks to our knowledge of science, we were right every time!

Weighing a cylinder of sugar
Filling a cylinder with water to test the density of water.
This is definitely denser than water!

Next we observed how much water these cylinders displace by marking the water level in a clear plastic cup, placing the cylinder in the cup, and drawing a new line.

We also tested this with a cork.
Testing how much water is displaced by a cylinder.

Finally, we were ready to get to building model boats. We began by observing a few floating objects with different shapes. This provided a few ideas to get going.


Soon we had materials out and began building.

Building boats
Building boats
Building boats

As we completed designs, we tested them in the pool. Not every design worked on the first try, but that’s how it goes with science!


This design needs some work.
This one is fairly aerodynamic.
Design inspired by Imperial Star Destroyer?

Everybody designed very different boats, which was a great opportunity to test and discuss why different boats have different shapes (and different purposes).


This one held quite a bit of weight!

After getting some hands-on design experience, our students design a theoretical boat and explained its purpose.




One final look at our flotilla!

Having a pool in the classroom made a bit of a mess, but these kids even helped clean up! You can’t beat that.

Mopping up the mess!

Once again, our students continue to impress us. We can’t wait for our next class!


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