In this activity, students learn about surface tension by designing and testing soap powered boats. In the first step, students build a prototype soap boat using a supplied template. After testing this prototype, the students research and design their own boat that is designed to travel as far as possible. After completing the activity, students use the included resources to learn about the water molecule, surface tension, and hydrogen bonding as they read, watch videos, and answer questions about how the soap caused their boats to move.
Bins of water (pie pans, plastic shoe boxes, or similar work well)
Liquid dish soap
Soap Boat template printed on cardstock
Various materials for building soap boats: Cardboard, plastic coated card board (from a milk or juice carton), aluminum foil, plastic lids from yogurt containers, thin plastic transparencies. Etc.
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