Water is great for another awesome STEM activity for kids. Design a boat made from nothing but straws and tape, and see how many items it can hold before it sinks. Learn about simple physics while you test out your engineering skills.
HOW TO MAKE A STRAW BOAT
HOW DOES A STRAW BOAT FLOAT?
An ancient Greek scientist named Archimedes was the first known person to discover the law of buoyancy through experimentation. Legend has it that he filled a bathtub and noticed that water spilled over the edge as he got in, and he realized that the water displaced by his body was equal to the weight of his body.
Archimedes discovered that when an object is placed in water, it pushes enough water out of the way to make room for itself. This is called water displacement.
The amount of water displaced is directly related to the volume of the object. If the weight of volume of an object is less than the weight of the water it displaces that object will float.
How do large ships float in water? A boat will float in water, if it weighs less than the volume of water it displaces. If the boat weighs more or is more dense than water, it will usually sink.
Also check out our penny boat challenge!
STRAW BOATS CHALLENGE
Will your straw boat sink or float?
- Plastic straws
- Packing tape
- Bowl of water
- Candy, coins, marbles etc.
STEP 1: Cut 8 straws to the same length.
STEP 2: Tape them together to form the first side of your boat.
STEP 3: Repeat to create another side and the bottom of your boat, making all the straws the same length.
STEP 4: Attach the sides and the bottom together with tape.
STEP 5: Now cut straws the length of the front and back of your boat. Tape these together and attach to complete your boat.
STEP 6: Now place more packing tape all around to make sure your boat is waterproof.
STEP 8: Fill a bowl with water and add your boat.
STEP 9: Now fill the boat with candy corn, coins, or marbles to test your design!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION!
Get the kids thinking! Here are some great questions to ask as a wrap up to this challenge including:
- If you could repeat the challenge, what would you do differently?
- What was the hardest part of the challenge?
- What other types of materials would you like to use for this challenge?
MORE FUN STEM CHALLENGES TO TRY
Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower – Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow.
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.
Penny Boat Challenge – Design a simple tin foil boat, and see how many pennies it can hold before it sinks.
Cup Tower Challenge – Make the tallest tower you can with 100 paper cups.
Check out our most popular STEM activities here!
MAKE A STRAW BOAT FOR STEM
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