Homeschool Science: Propelling a Boat

homeschool science boat

When teaching about forces, experiments are often the best way to demonstrate each concept. This particular activity involves building a tug boat that propels itself – pretty darn cool if you ask us! It’s super simple and a ton of fun. Here’s how it works:

What you need:

  • Rectangular butter/margarine tub
  • Empty yogurt cup
  • 2 popsicle sticks
  • Super glue
  • Acrylic paint
  • Duct tape
  • Rubber band
  • Another piece of plastic (like another butter tub lid or the lid of a pint of ice cream)

What to do:

  • Glue one popsicle stick horizontally on each of the longer sides of the butter tub. You want about half of the stick to stick off of the back of the tub. Glue them about half an inch or so above the bottom of the tub. Then secure with some duct tape – just for added strength.
  • With the lid of the butter tub on, glue the yogurt cup (top down) onto the top closer to the front of the boat (considering the sticks to be the back).
  • Have your child paint the boat however they’d like.
  • Take your extra piece of plastic and cut out a rectangle about the width of your boat. You want it to be able to fit between the popsicle sticks. Cut two slits in the rectangle. They should be at the ⅓ and ⅔ points going across the rectangle and should only be cut halfway down the rectangle. This will be your propeller!
  • Loop the rubber band around each of the popsicle sticks. Just give each end a quick twist and slide over the sticks,  make sure it is secure. Slide the propeller onto the upper portion of the rubber band. The left and right sides should be over the rubber band, while the center needs to be under it.
  • Wind up the boat by twisting up the propeller in the rubber band, and watch it go!

Have fun and don’t forget to check out SD Accelerate’s free trial!