Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making Nature Boats to Float in the River

As a motivator to go on a nature walk, I found this idea to make boats out of natural materials--a nut for the hull, sticks for the masts, and leaves for the sails from the Disney Family Fun Go site. So along with all the regular hiking materials, I packed playdough (to support the mast). My 5 year old, was on board. 

Here we are collecting the nuts to use as hulls for our boats. 

Here's a photo of all of our materials collected. We chose several types of leaves, discussing as we went which leaves might be the best sails. When I try activities like this, I try to casually ask question to get Caleb thinking. Here are just a few examples:
  • Why do you think that leaf will make the best sail?
  • What would be the best way to put the stick through the leaf?

We thought the height and width of the leaf would make a difference. Then we also determined that the thickness of the leaf mattered as well. Some of our specimens went limp once we threaded them through our stick (mast).   

Below is a photo of our boat prototype #1. Looking back at the photo on the Disney site I wonder if their boat was ever functional. I'm not an engineer, but I like to tinker with the best of them, and I don't see how a hull that small could support a leaf sail. Ours wouldn't even stand upright on land. If you look carefully, you'll see for the photo I had the boat leaning up against a stick! 

So as you can imagine, Caleb's interest was waning, therefore it was up to me to redesign our boat, but I kept trying to involve him in the process. He began wading in the water finding other ways to entertain himself and I was peppering him with questions--getting louder as he got further away.
  • Why do you think our sail boat won't stay upright?
  • What could we do to make it work?
  • Do you think using 4 nuts will help?
  • How many leaves should we use?
  • (Why am I making this boat by myself?--this question was asked just in my head)

For prototype #2 we tried a cameraman style, using 4 hulls to support 2 sails, with a cross support. 

Sails, didn't want to stay upright, but maybe it can still float down the river?

And the launch...


So, the nature walk became more about getting wet...and that was fine by me!

To read another version of this story, see my It looked better on Pinterest post. 

1 comment:

  1. How fun! I remember making boats out of walnut shells as a kid, and sailing them down the street after a storm.


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