Engineering design challenge: Build a boat

Engineers and geoscientists play an important part in protecting the public, including designing boats and ships that carry everything from the food we eat to the cars we drive and of course, people! Boats take a lot of design work to make sure that all of the components won’t break down in the water, including the computer systems inside that run the motors. Boats need to float and be able to move through the water in a variety of conditions.

Your mission

Design a boat that can carry a cell phone or iPod (sealed in a plastic bag!) without sinking. 


You should use objects you can find around the house to create your boat (some examples are below).

We recommend that you test out your boat in the bathtub and try to get it to move from one side to the other. How does the boat react if you make waves in the tub? Make sure that if you’re testing with electronics they are in a sealed plastic bag so that they don’t get wet!

Example materials

You can use these or any other materials you find around your house to work with:

  • Recycling
  • Styrofoam
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic Bags
  • Craft sticks
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Pipe Cleaners

Share some pictures of your creation online using the #NEM2021 or #NEGM2021 hashtag!