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Design a Submarine

Source Institutions

    Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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Design a Submarine

Learners act as engineers and design mini submarines that move in the water like real submarines. The submarines must be able to float, sink, and hover steadily without touching the top of the water or resting on the bottom. Use this activity to introduce learners to density and buoyancy.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Small container with a lid (pill container, film canister, plastic bottle, etc.)
  • Variety of small, heavy objects (coins, marbles, screws, washers, etc.)
  • Variety of small, light objects (paper clips, fabric pieces, cork, beads, etc.)
  • Rubber bands or string
  • Large container or tub
  • Water
  • Paper
  • Pen


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

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, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, ©2012


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