A Boat Has Got to Float

Scripture: Genesis 5-9

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of Noah and the Ark
  • Students will learn the scientific principles that allow a boat to float
  • Students will learn how to use the scientific principles and build a miniature boat type structure that will float and hold cargo

Guiding Question: What does a boat need to be able to float?

Materials: container of water, various materials (balsa wood, tin foil, craft sticks, cloth, etc.), plastic wrap, glue

Procedure: Review the story of Noah and the Ark. Ask students what characteristics the Ark needed to have to be able to get Noah, his family and the animals through the Flood in good condition. Teach/review the basic scientific principles of displacement (An object in water experiences an upward force that is the same as the weight to the water moved or displaced by the object. Or more simply – the boat will continue sinking until it has displaced as much water as it weighs. At that point if the part of the boat that would allow water to come into the boat is still above water, the boat will float. This is also why a boat with a hole in the side of it can sink even if that same boat without a hole would float.) and buoyancy (Some materials are designed to float more than others.).

Have students use the materials provided to try and build a boat that will float and hold the most “animals” (You can use marbles or coins to represent animals) before sinking. Test the various student boats and declare a winner. After the competition, discuss with the students what the most successful boats had in common that less successful boats did not have. Can you come to some conclusions about boat building based on your observations? List them as a class.

Additional Question: How do the proportions of a boat (length, width, height) affect its ability to float and carry cargo?

Supplemental Activity: Build a scale model of Noah’s Ark. What characteristics did the Ark’s construction have that made it able to stay afloat with so much cargo?

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