Raft Design – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Raft Design

Building a boat, raft, or other watercraft to safely transport items across water is a way for children to practice planning and decision-making skills. Get inspiration for your design by watching School and Community Program educator Ruben Conner set up his own experiment at home! Gather your materials beforehand, and try the activity along with him!

Learning Goals

  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Take Risks and Persist Through Challenges

Materials Required

    • A large bowl, tub, or other container filled with water - even a bathtub can work
    • A variety of materials for building a vessel, such as:
      • Sticks
      • Foil
      • Corks
      • Paper
      • Egg cartons
      • Tape
      • Glue
      • Rubber bands
    • Items to transport, such as coins, pens, small toy figures, etc.

Tips for Adults

  • As children begin to select materials to build their vessel, encourage them to try out ones they are unsure about. They can test the material in the water to see if it floats before deciding whether or not to incorporate it into their design.
  • Take the time to think and make a plan before diving into an activity, but it’s an important skill to practice. Planning is part of a suite of skills that helps children’s brains be ready to learn.
  • If children make mistakes or if their design doesn’t work, encourage them to learn from the failed attempt and to continue improving and adjusting their design. Ask questions like:
    • What could we change so it will work better next time?
    • What could you add to your design to help it travel across the water without anyone touching or pushing it?
    • What additions or changes can you make to your design to help it support even more weight?
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Bay Area Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing children with research-backed early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving. We need your help now more than ever.

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