Boats and Balance

Grades 3 - 5

Don’t rock the boat! Find out why some boats float and some boats don’t by working with a team to design, build, and test model sailboats in the Big Lab’s 40’ x 20’ Water Works pool.

Learning Goals and Activities

See below for questions your students may ask, and the scientific activities that will help them explore, explain, and elaborate on their understanding of boats and balance.

What are the major parts of a boat?
Discussion and definition of boat parts and terminology.

How does a boat balance?
Hands-on construction of model boats using varied shapes and sizes of all boat parts.
Hands-on testing in Water Works pool to adjust variables and build a balanced boat.

Which combination of variables makes the most stable boat?
Recording of data in large format class chart to track and analyze variables.

How does a sailboat move? How can a sailboat harness the most energy?
Hands-on exploration of sailboats and wind power using giant fans.

Which variables will make a boat go the fastest?
Hands-on boat races.

California State Science Standards

3rd Grade
Physical Sciences: 1.b, 1.c, 1.d
Investigation and Experimentation: 5.a, 5.b, 5.d

4th Grade
Investigation and Experimentation: 6.a, 6.c, 6.d, 6.e

5th Grade
Investigation and Experimentation: 6.a, 6.b, 6.d, 6.e, 6.g