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August Engineering Activity: Build an Aluminum Boat

Check out this month's engineering activity!
August Engineering Activity: Build an Aluminum Boat - Engineering Activity

Marine engineering refers to the engineering of boats, ships, and other marine vessels and related equipment. In this activity, you get to be a marine engineer and design your own aluminum cargo ship!

What causes something to sink or float? How can engineers help explore and protect the ocean? Marine engineering refers to the engineering of boats, ships, and other marine vessels or structures and related equipment.

Marine engineers design and build things that will operate in water. That can include watercraft like boats, barges, and submarines, equipment that will be used on the watercraft, steering, and anchoring technology. This includes how the boat will look, the equipment on board, and how everything works together. Marine engineers also need to make sure that the vessels are safe and comfortable places where people can travel and work.

All these things must be able to cope with the demands of a watery workplace, and marine engineers are the experts!

What You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil 12″x12″ sheet (heavy duty works best)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • White glue
  • Straws
  • Masking Tape
  • Pennies
  • Bathtub, pool, or sink in which to test your design

We’re going to operate like Marine Engineers and design a boat to carry cargo (pennies) while being as cost-effective as possible.

Buoyancy is a net upward force caused by displacement. A boat displaces a certain amount of water based on its weight and shape. If the weight of the boat is less than the weight of the water it displaces, it floats! If the boat weighs more than the water it displaces, it will sink.

We want to design a boat that will carry the most pennies. Think about different boats you have seen. What is the same about them? How are they different? Is it better to have a small bottom and tall sides, or a wide bottom and small sides?

august engineering activity: build an aluminum boat - engineering activity

Take some time to look at your materials and decide on your design, then start building! You don’t have to use all the materials. Using the cost of materials below, calculate how much your design will cost.

Material

Price

Lumber (popsicle sticks)$50 each
Sheet Metal (aluminum foil)$25 per sheet
Welding Materials (glue)$50 per bottle
Reinforcement (straws)$25 each
Cable/rope (masking tape)$10 per inch

Once your boat is built, fill a large bowl, bathtub, or sink with water. Float your boat and add pennies one at a time until your boat sinks.

How many pennies did your boat hold? Did it tip over? Did it fail completely, or was there one part that didn’t work very well?

Can you modify your design to be more cost-effective or carry more weight? Redesign and try again!

Author(s) Information

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