Age range: 11-14
Duration: 0-29 mins
  • D&T
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Balancing forces to design a boat

Using knowledge of forces in an engineering design context

The balancing forces to build a boat activity tasks participants to apply scientific and mathematical understanding of forces (resistance, buoyancy and thrust) and Newton’s 3 laws of motion, in an engineering and design context.

Relate speed to the streamlining in boat design and the shape of a boat’s hull. Consider the balanced and unbalanced forces the boat needs to withstand for maximum efficiency. This activity will demonstrate the principles of hydrodynamics, a similar set of principles to aerodynamics but involving water.

This activity is designed to be taught through science and design and technology simultaneously, as a cross-curricular project. However, it can also be tackled independently from each subject.

Tools/resources required

  • Projector/whiteboard


The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download and are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

Links to stream and download the videos can be found resources section below.

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