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Sail Away

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Sail Away

In this activity, learners explore watercraft engineering and sailing. Learners work in teams to design a sailboat out of everyday objects that can catch a breeze from a fan, stay afloat with a set load, and sail four feet.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Internet Access (optional)
  • Empty wax coated milk or juice carton
  • Scissors
  • Standard weight (several coins of same denomination or film canister filled with sand)
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • String
  • Sail materials (aluminum foil, plastic wrap, silk, fabrics, balloons)
  • Toothpicks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Wire
  • Fan
  • Waterway (shallow long container, plastic planter or child's pool)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
      • Manufacturing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
    • Vibration and Waves
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Sports and Exercise
  • 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



  • All Rights Reserved, IEEE,


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