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What Floats Your Boat?

P = F/A ?

What floats your boat? Students in Mrs. Zike’s class recently learned about buoyant force through a STEAM activity.

foil boat They learned that forces occur in pairs. Objects press down on water, and the water pushes back. When an object is immersed in water, an upward force is exerted on that object. This is called buoyant force.  Pressure equals force divided by area or p = F/A.

Students were given aluminum foil, and asked to fashion a boat that could support weight and float. They worked independently to create their boats, and waited to test them out. Each took turns placing their boats in water, and adding weight. Weight was added until the boats sank. Their data was recorded.

After the first trial, students were told to study their boats and determine how they could improve their designs. As the students studied and discussed the various boats, they quickly came to realize that the boats with the greater surface areas and sides held more weight. Students were instructed to design a better boat, and make predictions about the weight they might be able to carry. They began their work.

On the second trial, each students’ boat was able to carry more weight and ultimately exceeded their predictions. The winning boat held 325 grams! This student’s original boat held 21 grams, and he predicted his new design would hold 75 grams.

Full STEAM Ahead!

Mrs. Davida Zike