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Soapy Boat

Source Institutions

    Lawrence Hall of Science

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Soapy Boat

Learners discover that soap can be used to power a boat. Learners make a simple, flat boat model, put it in water, and then add a drop of detergent at the back of the boat. The soap changes the water's surface tension and movement of water molecules propels the boat forward. In this water-based activity, learners explore how soap changes the surface tension of water.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model



  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, The Regents of the University of California, ©2009


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