Newton’s Boat

During this workshop, students brainstorm for ideas on how to make a propeller driven air boat using scrap resources such as cardboard, plastic bottles, cups, etc. The challenge is to keep the boat from sinking due to the weight of the motor and battery.

Worksheet for Educators to be used in-class.

Materials Required:

No Material Qty Vendor
1 DC Motor 1 Mumbai: Lamington Road
2 Paper/ Plastic Cups Few Local Stationery
3 Piece of cardboard/ Paper plate 1 Scrap
4 Plastic Bottle & cap for Propeller 1 Scrap
5 Switch 1 Mumbai: Lamington Road
6 Battery 9 V 1 Local Stationery
6 Battery Holder 1 Mumbai: Lamington Road
6 Extra coins or stones As needed Home
6 Tub filled with Water 1 Home
7 Tape 1 Local Stationery
8 Scissors 1 Local Stationery

Steps to make:

  1. Decide what is to be used as the base of the boat – either cardboard, paper plate, plastic cups, etc. Any material of your choice.
  2. Make a propeller from plastic bottle scrap and attach it to the motor.
  3. Attach the motor and the battery holder on top of the boat with tape.
  4. Put the battery in the battery holder and connect the wires of the motor to the battery.
  5. Place the boat in a tub of water. Tweak the design to make the boat to float and move forward in water.
  6. Additional coins/ stones may be needed to balance the weight of the battery/ motor on the boat to enable it to float.

Working Principal:

When the air from the propeller is thrown one direction, an equal force is applied to the body of the boat in the exact opposite direction propelling the boat forward.

Concepts Explored:

  1. Newton’s Boat works on Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states that Every force has an equal and opposite reaction.
  2. The workshop also demonstrates Newton’s Second Law of Motion which states that Force is a product of Mass and Acceleration. This means that heavier the boat, lesser will be its speed and vice versa.

Reasons why Newton’s Boat may not work:

  1. If the boat is not properly balanced, it will sink.
  2. Check if the motor is working and the wiring is proper.
  3. Check is the battery is working.

Further External Resources:

  1. Video – How to make an Electric Airboat
  2. Ideas on how to make a boat
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