Our Senses

Boats that Float

  • Time Length
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    < 1 hour

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
    Shape Created with Sketch.


Question and Wonder:

  • What makes some things sink in water and some things float?
  • I wonder which “boats” will float and which will sink?  I wonder why?
  • I wonder how many “passengers” I can carry in my “boat”?
  • I wonder what would help my “boat” hold more “passengers”?

Imagine and Design:

  • Outside fill a large tub or small pool with water, or use your sink or bathtub.
  • Predict which “boats” will sink and which will float. Make two piles.
  • Predict which will hold “passengers” and how many.

Test and Discuss:

  • Try each “boat” object by setting it gently on top of the water. Let your child decide how to use the materials. Resist encouraging them to fold or manipulate the materials in a specific way. Simply watch what they do. Prompt observation and reflection. “Woah, what happened there!?”
  • Try placing “a passenger” or several on each boat.
  • Observe and discuss what happens.
  • Now invite your child to alter their approach. For instance, if they set a flat piece of tin foil on the water and then piled their “passengers” on…..ask what they think might happen if they crinkle or fold the tin foil. Then test, observe and discuss again.
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