Can an unsinkable ship be built? This was the question that was posed to 7th-grade students recently. We conducted an investigation into how do ships float, how is displacement calculated, and can ship design outsmart physics?

Students studies how ships are built and how bulkheads work. We took this information into our first build of the semester. The challenge being can you design a ship that can, hold a 1.25-pound weight and then how long can it stay afloat with a series of puncture to it. For every 2 minutes that the boat floated it would receive another puncture to the side of the boat. We used foam core board for this build as this would be an easy material to manipulate into the intricate shapes needed within the hull of the ship.

We had two groups of students boats last longer than 10 minutes in the water before meeting its ultimate demise. Some of the design challenges proved to be more simple for some groups, keeping the weight onboard and upright was a design flaw many groups met early on. This proved to be a very successful experiment and lesson for the teacher and students.