Penny Boat Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan leads students through the analysis of a design problem related to boats. Students complete their own designs, test them, and then evaluate their success. After analyzing the traits of the most effective boats, students suggest changes to their own design.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • analyze features of boats
  • design a boat according to given specifications
  • complete a test of their boat design
  • analyze features of successful boats and unsuccessful boats to make design improvements


60 minutes (or longer, depending on the number of students participating)

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2

Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.9

Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (extension)

Materials Needed

  • Roll of aluminum foil (3 feet of foil for each student)
  • Pennies
  • Tub or bucket of water (having several will make the activity quicker)
  • Photographs of boats and barges
  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Stapler and staples
  • Cellophane tape
  • Popsicle sticks (6 sticks per student)

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