Invitation to Build A Boat STEM Project

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Invitation to Build A Boat STEM Project

What materials would you use to build a boat with?
What makes a boat float?
Do you think you can make a boat that floats?

All good questions to ask while setting up this invitation station. The actual materials list isn’t as important as giving them plenty of materials to work with and use their imagination with. The invitation station is all about invention and engineering, it is not a craft. The idea is to give them a question such as, “What makes a boat floats?” And just sit back and watch their thought process go from stack of materials to the answer. It’s actually quite an insight into their logic and thinking skills.

We have been reading Boats Built for Speed with Davey & Pearl by Robert Von Goeben. This little book is so cute and full of lessons about patience and planning. What small child doesn’t need a lesson in patience? I know mine runs on full impulse from the time her eyes open till the time she passes out mid action at night. Lessons on patience are something we all could use at times and Boats Built For Speed gives us that all wrapped up in an adorably inpatient little duck.


In a way to expand on the book I planned out this invitation to build table. These tables usually involve no instructions, just an idea or question and random materials to use.  I placed out several plastic bottles, lids, straws, paper strips, k cups, and the essentials (scissors, crayons, glue) along with a tub of water for her to test her boat in. She tried several different ways of building a boat and seeing what would float. Finally she realized that the boat needed to be lighter to float. The hollow tubes worked best for boats.

Invitation to Build a Boat STEM Play

Materials I used:

Plastic Bottles (any I had handy…it pays to be a craft hoarder sometimes)
straws or coffee stirrers
Lids (anything you can find)
Little plastic people (I found a few left overs from my son’s army men days. The grow up so fast.)
Anything you can think of that would float

Her only instruction was to plan out her boat first. Although we all know nothing goes according to plan and we had several test runs before we got one to float and hold her people up right.

Invitation to build a boat stem play

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