Solar Boat Activity

Grades 6-8
Subjects: Science, Technology


Students will engineer custom paddles and propellers and use the solar power to create a boat that can move in the sun.

Students will explore in depth how solar power turns radiant energy into electrical energy, then into mechanical energy. Students will learn the variables that affect solar panels and the factors that influence the performance of paddles and propellers, ultimately building a solar boat that can transport the most weight.

NB Curricular Connections

Science 6-8

  • Strand: Learning & Living Sustainably- Big Idea: Responsible and Sustainable Application,

Technology 6-8

  • Strand: Design Thinking Skills- Big Idea: Problem Solving – Skill Descriptors: Plan, execute and present a project within given parameters and with assistance.

What You’ll Need

Readymade kits can be purchased from Vernier Canada, please contact COE-Energy lead for potential support.

Or create your own:

  • Solar panel (2V 400mA)
  • 48:1 double shaft motor
  • Waterproof solar motors
  • Propellers (2 and 3 blades)
  • Corks w/ holes
  • Screw hubs w/ acorn nuts
  • Motor Key Adapters
  • ¼” x 6” x 6” cork sheets
  • ½” x 3” x 6” cork board
  • Toothpicks
  • Water container to float the boats
  • Towels
  • Weights
  • If indoors, a table lamp rated for 150 watt or higher incandescent bulb and a 150 watt or higher incandescent bulb


  1. Download the attached document.
  2. Before building the boat, review understanding of mechanical and electrical work.
  3. Design and test solar panel circuitry using lamp or sunlight.
  4. Next, design Solar Boat prototypes that can accomplish the Engineering Design Challenge: propel forward as straight as possible using solar power, and transport as much weight as possible.
  5. Continue work by testing, redesigning, and testing again.

Reflection Activity


Global Competencies


Activity downloaded from solar_boats.pdf (


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