Understanding how a boat floats on the water and how weight distribution affects it is important for every boater.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to make a boat out of aluminum foil and observe the effect of weight distribution on it. This is a fun activity for kids and boaters alike to understand how boats work.
Keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
- What You’ll Need
- Aluminum Foil Boat Activity
- Additional Information
What You’ll Need
- Aluminum foil roll
- A few dozen coins
- Liquid container
- Tape (optional)
Aluminum Foil Boat Activity
1. Prepare the materials
Prepare square sheets of aluminum foil, preferably in a few different sizes to be able to test out how the size of a boat affects buoyancy. Get 4×4 and 8×8 inch sheets for starters.
For the liquid container, it would be best to use a fish tank or any transparent container to be able to see how much the aluminum foil boat sinks. Fill this container with water; note that it doesn’t need to be filled to the brim. Several inches deep is enough.
Our boat’s cargo can be anything, but coins are ideal because it will be easier to simulate situations where weight concentration is limited to specific points. Marbles are also a popular choice, though we cannot stack them. The important thing is that the objects used should have the same size and weight.
2. Make the boat
Next is to make a aluminum foil boat. The idea is to make a boat using one square sheet without needing to further cut or use smaller parts to add uniformity. Feel free to use any design, but those with more surface area for the load are preferred.
Make boats of differing sizes and designs to see what changes. Here, we have a simple boat to get you started; it is similar to a folded paper boat.
Aluminum foil boat instructions:
- Fold the foil sheet in half. With one side of the sheet facing you, take the outer edge of it and fold the foil towards the middle line you just created. Do the same on the other side.
- Unfold one third of the sheet. Change the sheet’s orientation to resemble a diamond with loose foil leaves at the corners.
- Fold the sheet in half, making sure the loose corners are folded towards each other. At this point, you should have a shape resembling a boat.
- Continue molding the edges of the sheet so the boat has curves.
3. Set the boat on the water
This activity normally involves setting aluminum foil sheets with different forms on water as well, not just boats. These include an unfolded sheet and even a crumpled one. The objective is to observe how each floats differently.
When it comes to the boat, we’ll put some load onto it after setting it on the water. Coins simulate having passengers or cargo on a boat because we can stack them to vary weight distribution.
Lay down coins on the boat, but distribute them evenly across the boat’s surface. We’ll see how the boat starts sinking as the load gets heavier. Once the water gets into the boat, however, it will sink completely.
If you stack the coins together on the boat, it will sink even if the number of coins is fewer compared to when they were evenly distributed. This demonstrates what happens when we keep too many things on a single point of the boat.
1. Can you make a full-sized aluminum foil boat that can hold passengers?
It is unrealistic to make an aluminum foil boat that can hold a person, even a child. This is because the material would give in and tear from the weight. The closest we can do is to make a boat frame made of different materials and then cover that with aluminum foil.
2. What other variations can be applied when you build a boat out of aluminum foil?
One design variety to try is to make a deeper hull, which would allow the boat to sink lower into the water without capsizing. You can also try reinforcing the boat structure using tape or more foil sheets to counteract the boat’s warping when the load increases.
3. What is demonstrated by this activity?
When you make an aluminum foil boat, the activity demonstrates the concept of buoyancy and density as well as shows the importance of managing a boat’s weight. By increasing the load, we can see that the boat’s density changes and that it will sink once it reaches the point where its density has exceeded the density of water.
However, it is also important to note that a boat itself has weight, and this should be included in any calculation for load capacity.
4. Can I use tin foil for this activity instead of aluminum foil?
Aluminum foil and tin foil are two similar but different things, but for this activity, the difference is negligible. Feel free to use tin foil if you prefer, though it is worth noting that aluminum foil is a slightly softer material.
We’ve gone over the activity that demonstrates how boats float on the water, including instructions for making an aluminum foil boat. We’ve covered how to vary the distribution of weight and how this can be used to simulate the load on a boat. Now you have a better understanding of boat density.
If you know anyone asking how to make a boat out of aluminum foil, share this article with them as well. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.
Remember to boat safely.
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