STEM Challenge Boat Building

Grade Levels
2nd - 5th
Formats Included
  • Zip
30 pages
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This STEM Activity is a runaway hit with my students. They cheer when they see Boat Building on our agenda and your students will too! There is just something about a STEM Challenge to build a boat and testing it to see if it will float (it will). It is totally fun to watch their faces and hear the groans when a boat sinks or celebrate with them when the boat holds a lot of weight! This is a challenge you must try!

This challenge is available in several money-saving bundles!

Benefits of STEM:

This STEM Challenge is our new favorite in the STEM Lab! It’s a great task with some excellent opportunities to re-design, re-think, and re-build! STEM activities provide wonderful opportunities for hands-on collaborative work. Students think critically and creatively and learn to allow failures to cement their learning. A STEM experience is a perfect place to learn to “Try, Try Again!

What is the Challenge?

This STEM activity will have your students designing and building a boat! Using simple supplies you probably already have on hand, students choose which materials they wish to use. To make this even more challenging students have a materials spending budget and must stay within it while building their boat.

What is the Prep for you?

Materials you will need (in addition to this package) include straws, masking, tape, craft foam, aluminum foil, waxed paper, plastic wrap, cups, water containers, weight (like pennies), and lots of paper towels! NOTE: Materials are what we used and you can choose differently depending on what you have readily available. You will also need to set up a float station in which to test the boats. A dishpan full of water will work!

This resource specifically contains:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Background, Materials and Preparation page
  • 5 pages of Teacher’s Step-by-Step Procedures
  • Extension Page with ideas for more activities
  • 3 pages of photos
  • Constraints of the Task page
  • Pricing list for the budget feature
  • Cost sheet for students to use
  • 3 versions of a lab sheet- one with sample student answers
  • Scoring Rubrics
  • Editable Forms
  • Terms of Use page

NOTE: A simplified version of this challenge is included in STEM at Home:


You might also enjoy these STEM Challenges about Building:

Or grab all three Building Challenges in a bundle:


You might also enjoy these STEM Products:

Have you tried a STEM Escape Room yet?


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Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


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