Hull Engineering

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In this activity, learners explore how the hull shape impacts a ship's performance and stability. Learners design, build, and test their own hull design, predict the performance of the various shapes developed, and present their findings to the group.

Safety note: Supervision may be required for safety purposes, since learners are using knives. Alternatively, educators may serve as the manufacturing facility and complete the cutting to each team's specifications.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Long waterproof container such as a planter, or gutter section with end pieces attached
  • Push-pull meter or materials to build a propulsion system (rubber band, measuring tape, cardboard, fasteners)
  • Measuring tape to determine how far a boat travels
  • Equal sized blocks of hard Styrofoam
  • Cutting tools (plastic or other knives)
  • Duct or other tape to eliminate water absorption (optional)
  • Toothpicks (optional)
  • Paper (optional)
  • Foil (optional)
  • Other decorations (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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