Clay Boats - An Engineering Activity
Fill a large clear Tupperware storage container with water. If weather allows this activity is best done outdoors. If you choose to do it indoors you will need a lot of towels or a mop.
Present the kids with they clay. Tell them their first challenge today will be to build a boat that floats. Their second challenge will be to build a boat that can hold 10 marbles. Give the children fifteen minutes to develop there boat. When they are ready allow children to place their boat in the water and test whether or not it floats. If it floats, have them add a few marbles. Ask them if their are ways they can improve their design. Allow them to make changes for another 10 - 15 minutes.
After each group successfully creates a boat gather the groups or children together around a container of water. Ask children to explain their design and why they think that their boat will succeed in holding 10 marbles. Have one boat at a time enter the water. Have the kids add the marbles one at a time until 10 marbles are on the boat or the boat sinks. Remove the marbles from the water and place the next boat in the water, repeating until every group or individual boat has had a chance to succeed.
Some children struggle with getting their boats to float. The most challenging part for many, is the trial and error that is required for this activity. Kids who enjoy engineering and problem solving love this activity, while others may need some more support in designing there boat. In the end every boat floated and most held the 10 marbles, and everyone walked away proud of the boat they built.
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