Electric Boat

With this activity students will learn electricity basics, how to create a simple circuit using a DC motor, AA batteries or a solar panel and a switch and how energy transmission and conversion work. 

Electric Boat DIY

It is a good opportunity to talk about material's density and to introduce Archimedes' Principle.


    • A piece of Styrofoam or any floating material (could be 2 bottles)
    • 3V DC Motor
    • AA Battery Holder with Switch or Solar Panel
    • Wind Propeller
    • 2 AA Batteries
    • Wind Propeller


    • Scissors
    • Hot Glue Gun
    • Foam Tape
    • Pencil and paper
    • Water Container

     Activity - Building an Electric Boat

    1. Give a pencil and a piece of paper to each student, or group of students, so they design their own Boat.
    2. Choose the materials that best suits to the design of the boat.
    3. Cut the styrofoam or floating material with the decided shape. Make sure it floats and it can support the motor and battery holder with out sinking.
    4. Stick the battery holder or the solar panel on top of the container. Note that the design wouldn't be the same for both types of boats. Make sure they are located on the bow of the boat.
    5. Stick the motor on top of the container, on the stern of the boat. Make sure the motor's axle is separated to the container so the propeller can be installed. 
    6. Put the propeller in place, making sure it does not touch the container and it is in a vertical position. There two options at this point, students can put the propeller touching water or not touching it. On this will depend the position of the motor. If the boat will be propelled by the wind, elevate the motor an inch from the boat. If the propeller will be touching water, in some cases it will be necessary to extend the motor's axle.
    7. Connect the black wire from the battery holder or the solar panel to one of the terminals on the motor and the red one to the other one. Twist the wires to secure them.
    8. Add some batteries, fill in the container with water and try the boats!!!


    Encourage students to experiment different designs and solutions to stabilize the boat. 

    Does the boat float?

    Is it moving straight? Is it moving forward?

    Which boat design is moving faster?


      Analyze the results:

      What happens if students build their own propeller?

      What changes would make the boat move faster?

      What would happen if the surface of the floating material is smaller? Why? 


      ISTE Standards

      4.c. Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.

      4.d. Students demonstrate perseverance when working with open-ended problems.  

      5.c. Students break down problems into smaller parts, identify key information and propose solutions.

      5.d. Students understand and explore basic concepts related to automation, patterns and algorithmic thinking.


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