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Math and Science Activities from Jefferson Lab


The purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for students to go through the planning, designing, model-building and cost analysis process that many scientists and engineers use as they solve problems and develop new technologies.


In this activity students will:

- work in teams

- design four boats from squares of aluminum foil

- build the boats they designed

- test their boats by floating them and loading them with cargo (dice) to measure their capacity

- record data

- place a value on their best boat

- create a bar graph depicting how many dice each of their boats held

- compare the cost effectiveness of their best boat with the boats of other teams using the amount of cargo held, how many of their boats it would take to deliver a specified amount of cargo and the cost of all of the boats that would be needed

- create a bar graph depicting how many dice each team's best boat held

Minimum Materials Needed for Each Student Group:

- Four square sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil measuring 12 centimeters (~4.5 inches) on a side

- A small bowl of water

- ~25 dice

Design and Engineering materials
Materials for Design and Engineering


- If you use pennies in place of dice, be aware that pennies minted after 1982 contain a lot of zinc and are lighter than older pennies.

Citation and linking information

For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.