Lesson Plan: Science and technology ages 6-8


Classroom Activity


Learning objectives

  • To be able to understand why ships float.
  • To be able to comprehend how ships made of heavy materials, like the Jewel of Muscat, can float.
  • To be able to appreciate how the cargo carrying capacity of a ship depends on its size and shape.

Success criteria

  • Can demonstrate how a ship made of heavy material can float.
  • Can use scientific knowledge to adapt a boat design to increase its potential to carry increased weight.

Thinking skills

  • Applying: employ, demonstrate, choose, solve
  • Creating: design, construct, develop, formulate
  • Evaluating: appraise, judge, defend, support, select


  • Large clear container of water e.g. a fish tank, or a plastic bowl.
  • Light piece of wood.
  • Coin.
  • Empty drink can.
  • Modelling clay or plasticine and a small water container for each group.
  • Pieces of cargo for each group e.g. counters, pegs, nails, or marbles. Each piece of cargo must weigh the same.
  • Students note books and pencils.
  • Computer with access to the internet and the Jewel of Muscat website.

Starter activity

Demonstration to show the principles of buoyancy:

  • Put the piece of wood in water. Ask students why it floats.
  • Put a coin into water. Ask students why it sinks.
  • Put an empty drink can into water. Ask students why it floats.
  • Crush the can to expel the air. Ask the students to predict what will happen when the can is put back into water.
  • Put the crushed can in water. Ask students to discuss what they see.
  • Students write up observations, with diagrams, in their notebooks.

Main activities

  • Divide into groups of two or three.
  • Guide and monitor the students through the activity sheet.
  • Activity 1 a ball of modelling clay (approx. 50 grams) for each group


  • Each group presents their modified boat and its heaviest cargo, to the class.  Explain how and why the adaptions were made.
  • Review the new design, giving reasons why it is a good design and how it can carry more cargo.