Science Projects for Building a Boat

Written by grahame turner
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Science Projects for Building a Boat
Experiments with boats on a small scale can provide information on how boats are built on a large scale. (Tay Jnr/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Hydrodynamics is the science of how water moves and interacts with other objects, such as boats. Kids making science projects can explore how boats interact with water, how they move and their capabilities. There are experiments for nearly any age or interest.

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When an object is buoyant, it is capable of floating. This is largely connected to its density -- how tightly packed the weight of the object is -- and other factors. Find several objects of the same weight, and experiment with how well they float in water. You will notice that larger objects tend to float better than smaller objects. Try also filling a floating, airtight jar with rocks until it sinks, one at a time, and see what happens.

Hull Design

The design of the ship's hull and the materials used is a very important part of any boat design. Cardboard is a decent material, although because it is porous, it can take on extra water. Tinfoil is a stronger material that takes on less water, but is more flimsy. Try building several different designs out of different materials, and seeing which ones can hold more or less weight before sinking.


There are lots of ways for boats to move through the water, such as propellers, paddles and steam power. Steam-powered boats will require a heat source, such as a tea light or small candle. Or you can wrap a rubber band around a paddle wheel made of cardboard, and spin the paddle wheel. There are also sail boats, which you can make out of paper and use a fan to blow. Test a number of different methods to see which works best.

Amphibious Vehicles

Not all boats spend all their time on the water. Some boats are repaired in dry-docks, which takes them out of the sea, and there are some which actually drive on land. Try to find a way to make a vehicle you can drive into a lake, then bring back onto the land without having to pick it up.

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