Cardboard is a versatile building material for all kinds of projects, but what kind of design allows a cardboard boat to float while holding a bag of sugar? Mechanical engineer Shanice O’Mara introduces how different kinds of boats can float and carry additional weight in this cardboard boat video from the James Dyson Foundation.
Design and build your own cardboard boat for a summer activity or for testing in the bathtub. Don’t forget to find the failure points. Some history and additional DIY support from Scientific American’s Science Buddies:
“More than 2,200 years ago, a scientist named Archimedes sat down in his bath and figured out that when an object is placed in water, water moves out of the way—it gets displaced. If the object is floating, the amount of water that gets displaced weighs the same as the object. There is a force, called a buoyant force, which pushes on an object when it displaces water. The strength of this upward acting force exerted by water is equal to the weight of the water that is displaced. So, if an object displaces just a little bit of water, the weight of that small amount of water is small, and so the buoyant force is small, too. If, on the other hand, the object displaces a lot of water, then there will be a large buoyant force pushing upward.”
This 2016 video is one in a series made to get kids excited about engineering. They have 44 classic engineering and science activities in this handy Challenge Cards pdf. Try the challenges at home or in class.
Watch these related engineering videos next:
• Spaghetti bridges, a DIY engineering activity
• Balloon Car Race, a DIY engineering activity
• What’s an Engineer? + The Engineering Process
• Succeed by Failing: Failure points and how to fix them