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Buoyancy: How a Boat Floats

Target Grade or Age

Grade Level: 5th - 8th

Our talented team of Museum educators are committed to providing an engaging experience that brings SOL-related content to life for your students. We bring passion and energy to each program to ensure the highest level of impact and retention. To learn more about this program, click on one of the format options listed below.

Choose your experience:

Duration:  60 – 75 minutes

How and why do massive ships, tugboats, and sailboats all float? What phenomenon keeps a container ship from sinking to the bottom of the ocean even when it’s full of cargo? Students will answer these questions and more as they explore The Mariners’ Museum and Park Buoyancy program. During this session, students will review the basics of buoyancy, then follow the steps of the Engineering Design Cycle to create a ship sail paired with their specific hull type and race against the clock. Students will use real examples of sails from the Museum’s collection for inspiration. This program teaches students about force and motion in a fun, hands-on experience! 

Learning Objectives

Students will: 

  • Experience hands-on exploration of physics concepts through the Engineering Design Cycle,
  • Discover how different factors, such as surface area and mass, influence buoyancy, and 
  • Learn different hull designs and which ones are the most stable.

Science (VDOE 2018): 

  • Elementary: 5.1 (a,b,c,d), 5.2 (a,b,c,d), 5.3 (b,c,d) 
  • Middle: 6.1 (a,b,c,d), 6.6 (b), 6.7 (d), PS.1 (a,b,c,d), PS.5 (b), PS.6 (a,b,c,d), P.S.8 (a,b) 

Next Generation Science Standards:

  • Elementary: 3-5-ETS1-1, 2, 3; 5-PS1-1, 2, 3; 5-PS2-1
  • Middle: MS-PS1-1, MS-PS2-2, MS-ETS1-1, 2, 3, 4


Payment can be made before the program, or we can invoice following your program.

  • Programs at the Museum are $4.50 per student.
    All adults accompanying a field trip are free.
  • Programs at your location are $4.50 per student.
  • Virtual education programs are $125 per program.

Reservations are required for all programs and are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs fill quickly in the fall and spring, so make your reservations a minimum of two weeks in advance.

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