Rubber Band Powered Boat
Updated: Jun 25
This fun and challenging experiment is a great activity for school-aged children. As they build their boat, science can be implemented by teaching them about potential and kinetic energy. The more they wind up their motor (potential energy), they will learn the farther it will travel (kinetic energy). Discuss with kids questions such as, “What happens to the energy when you release the motor?” This activity will engage children both physically and cognitively, as they use their hands to build the boat and use their brain to make changes in how the boat runs. If you would like to watch a video of this activity please click here.
Have fun and happy racing!
3 rubber bands
1 container/Tupperware (shallow works best, so that the motor can be in the water)
Old gift card or expired credit card (This is for the motor, so it needs to be hard plastic not paper)
Sink, bathtub, pool, etc. to test the boat in
Step 1: First, take the gift card or the old credit card horizontally and cut it in half.
Step 2: Then with each half, cut another slit about ¾ of the way through the card
Step 3: Next, slide the two slits of the gift cards together to create an “X” shape. This “X” shape will be the motor of the boat.
Step 4: Now it’s time to build the boat! First, place 2 rubber bands around your container, placing one at the middle and one at the top.
**I used a square shape and only needed 2 rubber bands, but if you have a longer container, you may need another rubber band for this to be steady.**
Step 5: Take 1 pencil on each side of the container and slide them through the rubber bands. You’ll want the top of the pencil to line up with the top of the container, so it’s okay if the end of the pencil is hanging off the back of the boat.
Step 6: Once both pencils are attached, you can add a third rubber band to the end
of the pencils. You’ll want to place the rubber
band as close to the end (eraser) of the pencil as you can.
**You’ll want to make sure you have enough room for your motor (the gift cards) to spin without hitting the back of the boat.**
Step 7: Next, we need to attach the motor to the boat. Place one piece of the motor inside the rubber band opening. Then, lift the top of the rubber band up and over the other side of the motor. This will allow your motor to be held up by the rubber band.
Step 8: After this, I added a chip clip to the front of my boat. This helped balance out the weight of the motor, so depending on your container size, you may or may not need this step!
Step 9: Now it’s time to get the water ready. Fill up a sink, bathtub, or pool high enough that the motor on the boat cannot touch the bottom.
Step 10: Wind up the boat by spinning the gift card around until the rubber bands get tight. It might look like the rubber band is knotted up, but this is just creating the power!
Step 11: Continue holding on to the motor until you place it in the water. Then, release and see how far and fast your boat can go
**If the boat doesn’t run, try winding up the motor tighter or see Step 8**
For a video of this activity please click here