Need more STEM activities to keep your kids busy, learning and entertained while you stay at home? Have them test their critical and creative thinking skills with a friend for this Virtual Instant Challenge!

Challenge: Using the materials below, create a boat that will float while holding as much weight as possible.


Builder’s Instructions:

Using the materials below, create a boat that will float and allow different objects to be placed on it while continuing to float. Once the boat is built, connect with a friend to “test” your boat.

  • You will place the boat in a shallow pan of water once as the “tester” watches to see if the boat floats.
  • You cannot hold the boat to keep it floating or touch the objects while testing the boat.

Tester’s Instructions:

  • Make sure the “builder’s” boat floats before testing the boat.
  • Objects placed on the boat may be removed and replaced by other objects.

Materials: 6 straws, 12in (30cm) pieces of string, 6 straws, 4 mailing labels or 6in of masking tape, 1 sheet of paper, 2 chenille sticks, 4 rubber bands, 1 12 in (30cm) piece of foil, 1 plastic sandwich bag, 1 Styrofoam cup or disposable plastic cup, 1 pair of scissors.

The pair of scissors may not be used as part of the boat.

Time: 15 minutes total to create your boat.


Note: Share this challenge with a friend and ask the friend to select objects you have around your house to test your boat’s ability to hold weight and continue to float. Record a video of your boat being tested and share the video with friends and challenge them to beat your scores. Check and see who has the best boat that stays afloat!

Scoring for the Builder:

A. 20 points if the boat successfully floats
B. 15 points if you use 3 or fewer types of materials for building your boat
C. 5 points (20 points maximum) for each object the boat holds and stays afloat
D. Up to 20 points for the creativity of your boat

Scoring for the Tester:

A. 20 points if the boat sinks
B. 15 points if the boat holds at least 3 objects before sinking
C. 5 points (20 points maximum) for each object over 3 objects that the boat holds before sinking
D. Up to 20 points for the creativity of the objects placed on the boat

Reflection Questions:

  1. What were the best materials for building your boat?
  2. How does the placement of the objects make a difference to the boat holding weight and floating?
  3. What weakened the boat design the most causing it to sink? The weight of the objects or the materials from which you built the boat?


Click here to download a copy of the Keep My Boat Afloat Instant Challenge.

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