Understanding how a boat floats on water and how weight distribution affects it is important for every boater.
In this article, we will see how to make an aluminum boat and observe the effect of weight distribution on it. This is a fun activity for kids and boaters to understand how boats work.
Keep reading to learn more.
What you will need
- Aluminum Foil Roll
- A few dozen pieces
- liquid container
- Ribbon (optional)
Aluminum Foil Boat Activity
1. Prepare the materials
Prepare square sheets of aluminum foil, preferably in a few different sizes so you can test how a boat’s size affects buoyancy. Get 4×4 and 8×8 inch sheets to start with.
For the liquid container, it would be best to use an aquarium or other transparent container so you can see how well the aluminum boat is sinking. Fill this container with water; note that it does not need to be filled to the brim. Several centimeters deep are enough.
Our ship’s cargo can be anything, but coins are ideal because it will be easier to simulate situations where the concentration of weight is limited to specific points. Marbles are also a popular choice, although we can’t stack them. The important thing is that the objects used have the same size and the same weight.
2. Build the boat
Next, make an aluminum boat. The idea is to make a boat using a square sheet without needing to cut more or use smaller pieces to add uniformity. Feel free to use any design, but those with more surface area for charging are preferred.
Craft boats of different sizes and designs to see what changes. Here we have a simple boat to get you started; it looks like a folded paper boat.
Instructions for the aluminum boat:
- Fold the aluminum foil in half. With one side of the sheet facing you, take the outer edge of it and fold the sheet towards the center line you just created. Do the same on the other side.
- Unfold a third of the sheet. Change the orientation of the sheet to look like a diamond with loose aluminum sheets in the corners.
- Fold the sheet in half, making sure the loose corners are folded toward each other. At this point, you should have a boat-like shape.
- Continue molding the edges of the sheet so the boat has curves.
3. Launch the boat
This activity normally involves laying sheets of aluminum foil of various shapes on the water, not just on boats. These include an unfolded sheet and even a crumpled sheet. The goal is to observe how everyone floats differently.
As for the boat, we will load it after launching it. The pieces simulate the presence of passengers or goods on a boat, since we can stack them to vary the weight distribution.
Drop coins on the boat, but spread them evenly over the surface of the boat. We will see how the boat begins to sink as the load becomes heavier. Once water enters the boat, however, it will completely sink.
If you stack the pieces together on the boat, the boat will sink even if the number of pieces is less than when they were evenly distributed. This demonstrates what happens when you keep too much stuff in one spot on the boat.
1. Can you make a full size aluminum boat that can accommodate passengers?
It is not realistic to make an aluminum boat that can hold a person, even a child. This is because the material would yield and tear under the weight. The closest we can get is to make a boat frame out of different materials and then cover it with foil.
2. What other variations can be applied when building an aluminum boat?
One variety of design to try is to make the hull deeper, which would allow the boat to sink lower in the water without capsizing. You can also try reinforcing the boat’s structure with duct tape or multiple sheets of aluminum to counter the warping of the boat as the load increases.
3. What does this activity demonstrate?
When making an aluminum boat, the activity demonstrates the concept of buoyancy and density as well as the importance of managing the weight of a boat. By increasing the load, the density of the boat is seen to change and it will sink once it reaches the point where its density exceeds the density of the water.
However, it is also important to note that a boat itself has weight, and this must be included in any load capacity calculation.
4. Can I use foil for this activity instead of foil?
Aluminum foil and aluminum foil are two similar but different things, but for this activity the difference is negligible. Feel free to use aluminum foil if you prefer, but it should be noted that aluminum foil is a slightly softer material.
We’ve reviewed the activity that shows how boats float in water, including instructions for making an aluminum boat. We have explained how to vary the weight distribution and how this can be used to simulate the load on a boat. You now have a better understanding of boat density.
If you know someone who asks how to make an aluminum boat, share this article with them as well. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.
Remember to navigate safely.