Science project


Difficulty Level




Safety Issues


Material Availability

All necessary materials are readily available.

Project Time Frame

4-8 weeks


This project is a study in buoyancy. 

The goals of this project are: 

  1. To discover the causes, effects and practical applications of buoyancy.
  2. To encourage technological advances. 

Materials and Equipment  

  • Computer with internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board) 

All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay. 


Buoyancy is defined as the characteristic that makes things float. It’s an upward force caused by fluid pressure from underneath. Buoyancy pushes something up while gravity pushes it down. Here we delve into the nature of things that float. 

Research Questions 
  1. What causes buoyancy?
  2. How is buoyancy measured?
  3. What kinds of materials will float and why?
  4. Why do ships float?
  5. How are the principles of buoyancy useful to us? 
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research 
  • Archimedes’ Principle
  • Buoyancy
  • Density
  • Equilibrium
  • Gravitational force  

Experimental Procedure 

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below and search terms listed above)
  2. Build a number of simple toy boat hulls out of various materials, such as wood, cardboard, plastic or foil. Use tape as needed. Boats should be of similar size.
  3. Waterproof all materials that need it, using any commercial water-proofing product.
  4. Photograph each boat.
  5. Measure the volume of each boat by carefully filling it to the top with dry rice, then pouring the rice into a measuring cup.
  6. Float each boat in a tub of water, and test for buoyancy by gently placing pennies, one at a time, into each boat until it sinks.
  7. Count the number of pennies that were needed to sink each boat.
  8. Calculate the weight of the pennies that were needed to sink each boat.
  9. Calculate buoyancy.
  10. Make a needle float in still water by placing the needle on a small piece of tissue. When the tissue sinks, the needle will remain afloat! Photograph this result.
  11. Design a floating vessel that’s more buoyant than the ones you tested (optional).
  12. Analyze the data.
  13. Interpret your findings in a detailed report.
  14. Include interesting photos in your science fair display.
  15. Also display your toy boat models, along with other items that demonstrate buoyancy, such as helium balloons. 


Wiki searches: “Buoyancy” and “Boat.”

Internet searches of your own choosing: Search for any of the terms listed above (or make up your own phrases to search), and click on any results that interest you. Have fun surfing the net!

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Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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