Cardboard Boats

To step it up a notch from popsicle stick bridges in 9th grade, this year we’re challenging 10th grade students to

build and sail a cardboard boat!

Working in teams of 3-4, students started out by taking a field trip to the Independence Seaport Museum, learning basic boat vocabulary, and testing out miniature boats to figure out what shape makes the best boat. They designed scale models of their boats in TinkerCAD and cut them out on the laser cutter. Finally, after a deeper look at buoyancy, they cut and assembled their full-size boat and set sail!

Each boat was required to hold at least one person and could only be made of cardboard, duct tape, and paint. Boats were judged on how fast they could paddle across a swimming pool and how well-built and decorated they were. Many thanks to the staff and patrons at the West Philadelphia YMCA for hosting our boat trials!


Lab Report on buoyancy and Archimedes’ principle
Scale Boat Model
Full-size Boat
Photo Journal explaining each step of the design and build process
Project Summary of your design, what you did to maximize your boat’s performance, and justifying your design decisions


Students at the Independence Seaport Museum

Sketching, designing, and testing scale models

Constructing and painting full-size boats

Racing boats in the YMCA pool

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The Workshop School, 221 S. Hanson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139, 215-400-7730