Buoyancy Activities

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Need some help deciding how to best introduce the concept of buoyancy to your students? This lesson will give you several ideas for fun and engaging buoyancy activities.

Buoyancy: Not Just for Ships and Hot Air Balloons

When most people think about buoyancy, images of ships and hot air balloons come into their head. This is understandable, as these are great examples of a few man-made objects that capitalize on the principle of buoyancy. Buoyancy is all around us, though! The activities that follow are designed to help students understand the importance of buoyancy in fun, engaging ways.

Foil Ship Activity

To introduce the concept of buoyancy, have students create their own buoyant objects. Ships rely on buoyancy to float, and the amount of weight they can carry depends on the amount of water they displace. Give students some aluminum foil, portioning out squares of foil to ensure each student is working with the same amount. Also provide a large open container of water; even a filled sink will do. Then, ask them to make a ship out of the foil that will float. Once they have done this, add some small objects (coins work well) to the boat, adding more and more until the boat sinks. When the boat sinks, task students with creating a new boat that will be able to support more weight. This can then go on for as long as you wish. This is a great way to have students explore buoyancy in an inquiry-based manner. When discussing students' ships, consider the following questions:

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