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For this science project, you will need access to a shallow beach or pool where the boats can be safely tested. The objective of this science fair project is to build and test designs of model boats made out of milk cartons.
Boats have a variety of purposes: freighters carry cargo, yachts compete in races, trawlers haul nets through the water to catch fish, just to name a few. This science fair project was inspired by the DragonflyTV episode entitled "Milk Carton Boat Race, by Ciara, Brittney, and Maria". In order to determine which boat designs were fast, stable, and maneuverable, they built model boats and tested them in the water at the local beach.
For this science fair project, you will design and build model boats out of milk cartons and test the different hull designs in a shallow pool or beach. To start this experiment, you first need to decide which types of boat hulls you are going to test.
Look over your results to determine which boat's hull design performed the best in each of your tests. The goal of testing the boat designs in the video was to see which design would work best as a full-sized boat. The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources.


Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth's surface, and marine architects design vessels that allow humans and their cargo to cross through or under those waters safely and efficiently. Ship and boat captains have the important job of commanding ships and boats through domestic and deep-sea waterways, so that passengers and cargo arrive safely. Compared to a typical science class, please tell us how much you learned doing this project. You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. Reproduction of material from this website without written permission is strictly prohibited. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. These different boat designs depend on their functions-some are built for stability, others for speed. In the video, Ciara, Brittney, and Maria prepare for an unusual hometown boat race-all of the boats are made entirely out of milk cartons! They tested three designs: a catamaran with two hulls, a raft with a flat bottom, and a boat with a V-shaped hull. When you are designing the boats, consider which hull designs you think will be best for each test.
It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Bring along an adult who can supervise, and a few helpers to help you test and record data. You will need some helpers to measure the length of the glide and to record your results in a data table in your lab notebook, like the one below. To ensure accuracy, make sure you are the one giving the gentle push each time so it is more likely to be the same amount of force.
Set up a course for the boats using the bobbers attached to weighted strings, then pull the boats through the course. Repeat the tests at least three times with each boat design, and be sure to include units in your results. If you have lots of milk cartons, and are not afraid of getting wet, build a full-size boat that you can sit on without sinking.
If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help.


Some of their watercraft designs are enormous, like merchant ships, which carry huge loads of oil, cars, food, clothing, toys, and other goods, across thousands of miles of open waters.
To do this, they need knowledge of the mechanical and electrical workings of ships, navigation, signaling, national and international legal rules in waterways, as well as strong leadership skills, since they supervise the work of all other crew members. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. In this science fair project, which was inspired by a PBS DragonflyTV episode, you will design and build different kinds of model boats out of milk cartons.
A key feature of a boat's design is the shape of the hull, which is the body of the boat (see Figure 1 below).
For the boat race, the boat must be able to carry all three of the girls, plus a lifeguard. Be sure to attach a string to each boat so you can pull it through the test courses set up in the water.
Try separating the bobbers by 3 feet at first, then experiment with different lengths of separation. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot. Examples of the types of designs you might test include a raft, a catamaran, and a V-shaped hull. Flat-bottom boats are simple to build and have a shallow draft (the part of the boat that's under the water). Have a helper note where the boat stops gliding and measure the length of the glide with the measuring tape.
Once the model boats are built, you will test key features, such as stability, maneuverability, and their ability to glide.
And since the boat will be competing in a race with other boats, speed and maneuverability are also important. V-bottom boats are able to cut through the water, which results in a smoother ride in rough water.
Catamarans have two separate hulls, which can provide greater stability than mono-hull boats (boats with one hull).



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