How to Design a Sailboat for a School Project


Teach students about how sailboats move across the water by designing and making a sailboat of their own. Allow students to create their boat, and then stage a competition to see whose boat reaches the other side of the wading pool faster. Allow students to retest their designs with alterations until the students feel they have their perfect sailboat. Analyze boat the construction to determine what makes one sailboat better than another.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Foam egg carton
  • Decorations
  • Construction paper
  • Hole puncher
  • Pencil
  • Clay
  • Water
  • Plastic wading pool
  • Straw
  • Cardboard
  • Cut a foam egg carton in half for top and bottom pieces, and set one piece aside or give to a partner to use for his sailboat.

  • Decorate the inside of the egg carton lid with paint or markers or by adding light-weight decorations such as stickers.

  • Cut a piece of construction paper into a large triangle and decorate if desired. Punch two holes into the paper triangle and thread the pencil through the holes---this forms the sail of the sailboat.

  • Form a small ball from the clay, and gently push the pencil sail into the clay. Place the clay into the center of the egg carton. The sailboat is complete.

  • Fill a plastic wading pool with water, and set the sailboat inside. Allow students to watch their sailboats float along the surface of the water.

  • Conduct a contest between students by allowing them to blow into the sails and move the boat to the other side of the wading pool. Allow students to use their breath, blow through a straw, or wave a piece of cardboard near their sailboat's sail. Consider testing sails of different sizes to see which size works best.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure that the egg carton does not have any holes, or the boat will fill with water and sink.
  • Allow students to use other lightweight materials, such as a milk carton or other plastic foam shapes for their boat's base.
  • Use unsharpened pencils for the sail to limit potential holes in the boat base.


  • Photo Credit toy sailboat image by Kimberly Reinick from
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