Materials required 

  • Foil
  • Container of water
  • Marbles
  • Cardstock
  • Paper and pencils

Questions to Guide STEM Learning:

  • What to you know about boats?
  • What do you know about floating and sinking properties?
  • How would the shape of my structure affect its ability to float?

Supporting materials 

Science and Engineering Process:

  • Defining Problems
  • Asking questions
  • Designing Solutions
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Explaining your findings
  • Finding out more information
  • Redesign
  • Retest

Ideas for Facilitation:

  • Introduce the topic of Boats
  • Demonstrate making a boat out of foil
  • Instruct students in activity directions
  • Get students in teams
  • Have students design boats
  • Ask students to predict how many marbles they think their boat will hold
  • Walk around the room and listen. Try not to give any ideas, answers, etc.
  • Have students build their boats from foil
  • Encourage teams to work together to come up with their designs
  • Allow for group collaboration on ideas
  • Have students explain their design, share their predictions and test their boats
  • Use supportive comments to encourage students ideas
  • Give students a chance to redesign on paper
  • Allow student to make a new boat based on their new designs.
  • Again, make predictions of how many marbles will their boat hold and still float
  • Have students explain their re-design, share their new predictions and test their boats
  • Have teams share their conclusions
  • Talk about data that was collected
  • Discuss why this is important.
  • Discuss careers that would be involved with this area

Time required 

1 hour