Today we built boats out of tin foil.  The goal was to build a boat that would hold the most pennies.  The group was split into three smaller groups and each had a roll of aluminum foil.  They could create different models, but each team could only enter ONE boat in the competition.  They were also able to test their boats for “float-ability” without the pennies before the real competition.

They each tested a model here and there before “the big one”.  They scrapped an idea here and there.

Ultimately, two of the teams held 17 pennies and one held NONE!  But the team whose boat held none wanted to try one of their scrapped boat plans… and that one held 160 pennies!!!  I have done this with kids in this age range for easily 5 years and really, the most pennies a model has held for my students was 238 (but to be fair—they had a longer class period and were able to do a second round of designs and testing—which I shared with the students!)

I’m sad that our wrap discussion didn’t get to talk about WHY they scrapped that model of boat (I suspect it was because it was a 2-piece model and I warned that if either piece took on water—that would equate to being done even if the other piece had not yet taken on water).  But I’m glad that we ran out of time because the kids were making connections about the dynamics of their models and how they thought the models were behaving in the water!

STEM: Tin Foil Boats