STEAM Learning Lab – Indoor Boats

Indoor Boats
Fun for Everyone

It’s time to start a fun new tradition and have some indoor boat races! This activity Is perfect for the whole family and lets everyone show off their boat building creativity and scientific knowledge. Before we get started building any ships, here are some important scientific concepts that are important to remember when constructing a truly sea-worthy vessel:

  • Buoyancy: some objects float in the water. Objects float when they are less dense than the water they displace. As we add weight to our boat, it will sink lower in the water and can become less buoyant.
  • Balance: Balance will help our boat stay upright and avoid filling with water
  • Water resistance: Using a material that is waterproof or water-resistant will also prevent water from coming into our ship and making it sink
  • The Principles of Lift and Drag: Lift and drag are what lets a ship use a sail to go faster! By offering a large, convex surface the wind has more area to apply force to. By angling your sail just right, you can create lift and the air pressure surrounding the sail will force it to move along more quickly.

 

Now that we have covered some of the science behind our boats, let’s get started!

 

Materials

  • Old containers or items from the recycling bin
  • Tape or Clay
  • Full bathtub or bin of water
  • Paper for sails
  • Pennies

 

Directions

  1. In order to create our boats, we are going to raid the recycling bin. Encourage kids to look at the objects and predict which objects will float well, and which will sink.
  2. We can also apply tape of clay to the outside of non-water-resistant materials, increasing the time that these objects can stay on the water
  3. Once we have built our boats, it is time for the first challenge. Place each boat in the water and see if it floats
  4. Next, have a race! Blow on sails and see which boat can get to an endpoint faster
  5. Finally, see which boat can carry more weight. Apply pennies to the boats-which can hold the most without sinking?

 

More Fun

  • Here are some good pirate songs to get everyone in a nautical mood!

 

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