Water, water everywhere! Water is great for another awesome STEM activity for kids. Design a simple tin foil boat, and see how many pennies it can hold before it sinks.  How many pennies will it take to make your boat sink? Learn about simple physics while you test out your engineering skills.

TIN FOIL BOAT CHALLENGE FOR KIDS

BUILD A BOAT

Get ready to add this simple penny boat challenge to your STEM lesson plans this season. If you want to learn more about simple physics with buoyancy, set up this easy STEM activity for kids.  While you’re at it, make sure to check out more fun physics experiments.

Our STEM activities are designed with you, the parent or teacher, in mind!  Easy to set up, quick to do, most activities will take only 15 to 30 minutes to complete and are heaps of fun!  Plus, our supplies lists usually contain only free or cheap materials you can source from home!

PENNY BOAT CHALLENGE

Ok, your challenge is to build a boat that can hold the most pennies or small coins before it sinks.

SUPPLIES:

  • Large bowl of water
  • Green food coloring (optional)
  • 30 plus pennies per boat
  • Aluminum Foil

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BUOYANCY EXPERIMENT

STEP 1: Add a drop of green or blue food coloring (optional) to your bowl and fill 3/4 with water.

STEP 2: Cut two 8″ squares of aluminum foil for each boat. Then form a small boat from the aluminium foil. Time for kids to use their engineering skills!

STEP 3:  Place 15 pennies on the other square of tin foil (not the boat) and have the kids ball it up and place it in the water. What happens? It sinks!

ALSO CHECK OUT: Scientific Method For Kids

STEP 4: Place your boat in the water and see if it floats.  Reshape if it doesn’t! Then slowly add the pennies one at a time. How many pennies can you count before it sinks?

STEP 5: Extend the challenge by rebuilding your boat to see if it can hold even more pennies.

HOW DO BOATS FLOAT?

Our penny boat STEM challenge is all about buoyancy, and buoyancy is how well something floats in water or another liquid. Have you seen our saltwater science experiment?

You may have noticed that you saw two different results when you used the same amount of pennies and the same size piece of foil. Both items weighed the same. There’s one big difference, size.

The ball of foil and pennies take up less room so there is not enough upward force pushing up on the ball to keep it afloat. However, the tinfoil boat you made takes up a greater surface area so it has more force pushing up on it!

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MORE FUN SCIENCE WITH PENNIES

MORE FUN STEM CHALLENGES

Straw Boats Challenge – Design a boat made from nothing but straws and tape, and see how many items it can hold before it sinks.

Strong Spaghetti – Get out the pasta and test our your spaghetti bridge designs. Which one will hold the most weight?

Paper Bridges – Similar to our strong spaghettti challenge. Design a paper bridge with folded paper. Which one will hold the most coins?

Paper Chain STEM Challenge – One of the simplest STEM challenges ever!

Egg Drop Challenge – Create your own designs to protect your egg from breaking when it is dropped from a height. 

Strong Paper – Experiment with folding paper in different ways to test its strength, and learn about what shapes make the strongest structures.

Marshmallow Toothpick Tower – Build the tallest tower using only marshmallows and toothpicks.

Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower – Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow.

Gumdrop Bridge – Build a bridge from gumdrops and toothpicks and see how much weight it can hold.

Cup Tower Challenge – Make the tallest tower you can with 100 paper cups.

Paper Clip Challenge – Grab a bunch of paper clips and make a chain. Are paper clips strong enough to hold weight?

DESIGN A PENNY BOAT FOR FUN STEM FOR KIDS

Discover more fun and easy science experiments right here. Click on the link or on the image below.

Best ever STEM and science activities for kids.