Ahoy There! It Be Boats Afloat on Yonder Water!

Boats 1Wake ahead and winds a-flurry! What does it take to stay on course and above water when hit by these elements on the kiddie pool? This past Sunday, families got to put on their engineering sailor hats and test out how well their designs held up against fans and a wave maker.  During our hands-on Boats, Rafts and Ships workshop, cardboard and paper were transformed into sails; skewers became tall masts and harpoons; and Popsicle sticks were made into oars to complete kids’ aluminum-lined vessels.

What is the maximum load your boat can hold?

Boats 2Some boats may be swift and sleek like racing sculls, but it was the large, wide cargo ships that did not sink when loaded down with lots of heavy metal washers.  Kids fished out many a sunken ship from the briny kiddy-pool deep, and then all went back to the drawing board. After skimming through books and pictures for ideas on real life boats from around the world, our junior boat engineers’ redesigns and upgrades were tested again in the pool and weight tub.

Boats 3This process of developing a prototype, testing it out and then redesigning based on what was learned is what engineers do all the time, and it is what our visiting children had the chance to do in this workshop.

Try this activity at home – you can use any materials you have lying around.  Aluminum foil makes great boat bodies and gives kids a chance to easily play around with different boat shapes and sizes.  Metal washers, pennies, dried beans – anything that has some weight and which you can add in small increments is great for testing how much of a load your boat can hold.  And try the activity in a sink or bath tub if you don’t have a small plastic pool to use outside.

Printable Activity game:
Here is some even more portable boat-themed fun.  Boats, ships, rafts, and all kinds of watercraft scuttle by or dock at the busy Fort Point channel outside Boston Children’s Museum every day and night. On a beautiful summer day, a game of “I Spy…” can become an entertaining lunch hour by the boardwalk. How about trying a game of Boat Bingo the next time you come by the museum?  Click on the game board below and save it to print out or take with you on your phone or tablet.  Or make your own I Spy boats game.  And most importantly – have fun together, mateys!

I Spy Boats

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