Grade 6 students carefully eased their boats into a container of water to see if their boats would sink or float for the annual STEM boat competition. The students were challenged to design and engineer a boat that is less dense than water at room temperature to ensure that it is buoyant. The boat with the lowest density wins the challenge!
In an effort to keep their cost and materials low, the students found themselves working through different designs in a process of trial and error.
“Our first idea cost $16 which turned out to be too expensive for our budget. Our second idea was a simple piece of aluminum but we were not sure if it would float, especially when the washers were added,” said Caroline Castonguay ’28, who won the competition with her classmates Tim Drbul, ’28 and Evan Minaidis ’28.
A formula was used to consider the overall cost of materials and the number of washers that the boat could withstand once in the water to determine the scores for the competition.
After considerable thought, the winners arrived at their final design. “For our last design, we taped pieces of straw to each edge of a piece of cardboard and it worked! Our boat was floating and we were able to add 11 washers to the top of it without it sinking,” said Caroline. The group aptly named their winning boat the “S.S. Not a Piece of Junk.”