Junior Infants Design and Build Model Boats

Girls and boys in both junior infant classes have been busy throughout the year.  They have done lots of work in the area of Science.  This is a 'snapshot' of some of their fine work.

  • Curriculum Strand (Science): Forces

Strand Unit: Energy and Forces

Activity: The children in both junior infant classes designed four boats using four different materials: paper, tinfoil, plastic and cardboard.  They investigated how forces can act on objects and how some objects will float and some will sink.  


  • questioning
  • predicting
  • designing and making
  • observing
  • investigating and experimenting
  • recording and communicating

Materials used:

  • egg cartons
  • plastic
  • tinfoil
  • paper
  • basin
  • Designing the boat: coloured paper for sails, paint, crayons, stickers, lego figures for each boat, scissors, glue, paint brushes

The necessary vocabulary was taught to the children before beginning the experiment.

Design and Construction of the Boats:

The children were divided into groups of four:

  1. making a boat out of plastic
  2. making a boat out of paper
  3. making a boat out of cardboard (egg cartons) and
  4. making a boat out of tinfoil.

Each group also used materials such as stickers, paint etc. to help create their own unique design.


The children engaged in a discussion about the materials that they thought would be best at floating in the basin of water - plastic, cardboard, tinfoil or paper.  Questions included: What material is waterproof? Will the paper boat sink or float? Why? Which boat/material is the heaviest? etc.

Conducting the Investigation:

First we placed the paper boat in the basin of water.  The children gathered around to investigate what was happening to the boat. They enjoyed engaging in class discussions about this.  Similarly, the plastic boat, tin foil boat and cardboard boat were placed (separately) in the basin of water...with observation and discussion following. 

Interpreting the Results and Reflection:

The children concluded that....

  • plastic was the best material to use to build a boat as the boat did not sink or even get damaged
  • paper was the worst material...as the boat sank after having been in the water for only a few minutes.  It also got damaged very quickly.
  • cardboard was not a good material...while the cardboard boat did not sink as quickly as the paper boat, it became damaged fairly quickly and eventually sank.
  • tinfoil was not a good material for building a model boat...it was not as solid as the plastic boat and cracks appeared causing it to sink.