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Foil Boats

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Patrons design and build a boat from aluminum foil that can hold as many pennies as possible before sinking or capsizing.

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Related Programming Resources

Hints for uses in your library Remind patrons to utilize the engineering deisgn process. Failure is OK!

Make sure to give patrons enough time to design AND redesign their boats.

Ask questions that encourage further discovery!

ACTIVITY VARIATIONS
Ask participants more focused questions about buoyancy. What happens to a full glass of water when you add a bunch of ice cubes to it? What happens to a ship when more and more weight is added to it? Introduce the design challenge. Give each person or team a square of aluminum foil. Give participants as much time as they need to build their boats. They may test them to make sure they float before adding weight. Start adding weight to the boat. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly.
■ Place pennies one by one into the boat. Participants can keep track or count along.
■ Keep adding weight until the boat sinks.
■ Make observations along the way. Does the boat change shape, spring a leak, or lean in one direction?
Ask questions to encourage further discovery. Redesign the boat and test again.
Calculate the weight of displaced water just before sinking. Add the weight of the dry foil boat plus the weight of the pennies. A standard US cent weighs 2.5g. Was this more or less than you thought the boat could hold? Use other materials for building the boat, like clay or paper.
After testing a boat in water, try another fluid. Will the boat hold the same amount of weight floating on salt water? What about vegetable oil?
Originating Source Dream Big/DiscoverE
Related Books
[Suggest a book]
These children’s books all deal with various themes involved in engineering such as the engineering design process, specific projects such as building bridges or houses, and perseverance through failure.

• Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
• Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
• Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
• This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers
• Cross a Bridge by Ryan Ann Hunter
• What To Do With an Idea? By Kobi Yamada
• Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
• Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
• The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
• The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
• How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons

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Foil Boats

Foil Boats

Patrons design and build a boat from aluminum foil that can hold as many pennies as possible before sinking or capsizing.