How are ships made of steel able to float? Even more — how can a steel ship carry a heavy load without
sinking? In this science project small teams will make little “boats” to investigate how their size and
shape affect how much weight they can carry. Students will work in groups of three or four to build a
small boat out of paper, aluminum foil, pipe cleaners and tape. After the building phase has been
completed, each team will test their boat by placing pennies in the boat while it floats in a tub of water.
The boat that holds the most pennies wins the challenge! This project will teach the students about
buoyancy, material properties, force equilibrium, and the engineering design-build-test cycle.
Hannah Brennan (right) and Steve Wilson (left), Lindblom Math and Science Academy freshmen, March 1, 2016.
Photo Credits: Joseph Xu/Michigan Engineering Multimedia Content Producer, University of Michigan