STEM Lab- Making a Boat Experiment

Stem straw boats

I just love these trips to our STEM lab. Today was the first day that our students got to engineer and build something, so they were thrilled. Most of our visits to the STEM Lab so far have been observing and recording while they train to be scientists. So today’s making a boat experiment was amazing.

This visit, we worked on building with the following.


  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Straws
  • Scissors
  • Pennies
  • Plastic Wrap


  • Build a boat that floats


Team with the most pennies on their boat

Step 1- Gather supplies.

Supply gathering
Student awaiting instruction

First, students gathered up their supplies. They waited for directions once they got everything they needed.

Step 2- Start brainstorming.

Before students got out tape and plastic wrap, they were prompted to brainstorm what their boat would look like. Some started their making a boat experiment with a huge frame and discussed if they thought that would be a good idea or not. Others started to form what their boat would look like. This was one of their first building/engineering experiments, so there was definitely a learning curve. A lot were scared to get it wrong and think outside the box, so this was a very necessary STEM Lab activity.

Step 3- Let’s build.

Once the students started to build their rafts, it was amazing to see how different each group went about it. Some of them tried to make the straws compacted while others tried to make them farther apart. Some connected them with tape before wrapping them up, while others wrapped first before taping. I was as interested as they were in which ones would be best.

Step 4- Test it out.

Now, it was time for the moment of truth for the groups. Each group had to put their boats in the water and start loading up pennies. Only one group couldn’t get pennies to stand on their float. We had a good lesson about how it was okay that they failed their experiment and how that’s part of being a scientist.

Want to try the Making a Boat Experiment?

Check out this FREEBIE!

FREEBIE recording worksheet for STEM Activities- science experiments for kids- making a boat day in the STEM Lab

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