In Search of Solutions: The ten gram boat race


In Search of Solutions: Design and build a boat powered purely by soap! Challenge students to create the most efficient design. Linking to topics on rates surface tension.



If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their findings.
  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, including recognising and controlling variables where necessary.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Know that some materials will dissolve in a liquid to form a solution.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • How to identify variables that could affect the outcome of the experiment.

Suggested activity use

This could be used in a science week as a fun experiment or as a demonstration to stimulate discussions and questions. Alternatively, it could be carried out as a whole class investigation, with children selecting and investigating variables that could affect the number of laps the boat is able to do. If you use the activity in this way, you may need more time to complete the activity.

Practical considerations

You will need to provide various materials, including bowls of water and a stand to attach boats to.

You may need additional adult support, as making the boats and carrying out the activity could be difficult to set up, particularly as the water will need changing for each trial.

The idea of surface tension is not covered in the primary curriculum, and could be difficult for some children to understand.