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Learning Resource Type

Classroom Resource

Using the Properties of Materials to Improve a Model Boat

Subject Area





Students will use what they know about the properties of paper, plastic, and aluminum foil to decide how the materials can be used for a specific purpose.  

The teacher will demonstrate making a paper boat to guide students, who work in pairs, to make their own paper boat. The boat will be placed in water to demonstrate how many pennies the boat can hold before sinking. Students are then guided to think of ways to improve the boat by covering it with waterproof material. Students make the same paper boat and cover it with plastic and aluminum foil. Students test the boat to see if it holds more pennies than the original paper boat.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 2


    Conduct an investigation to describe and classify various substances according to physical properties (e.g., milk being a liquid, not clear in color, assuming shape of its container, mixing with water; mineral oil being a liquid, clear in color, taking shape of its container, floating in water; a brick being a solid, not clear in color, rough in texture, not taking the shape of its container, sinking in water).

    Unpacked Content



    • Solid
    • Liquid
    • Physical Properties
    • Investigate
    • Classify
    • Opaque
    • Transparent
    • Translucent
    • Rough
    • Smooth
    • Float
    • Sink
    • Shape
    • Various
    • Substances
    • Conduct
    • Describe


    Students know:
    • Different kinds of matter exists.
    • Properties of both solids (opaque, transparent, translucent, rough, smooth, float, sink, has its own shape) and liquids (color, assumes shape of container, opaque, transparent, translucent).
    • Many types of matter can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature.


    Students are able to:
    • Plan and conduct an investigation to produce data that is used to describe and classify substances according to physical properties.


    Students understand that:
    • Observable patterns in the properties of materials provide evidence to classify the different kinds of materials.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Planning and Carrying out Investigations

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 2


    Collect and evaluate data to determine appropriate uses of materials based on their properties (e.g., strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, absorbency).*

    Unpacked Content



    • Evaluate
    • Data
    • Graphs
    • Properties
    • Purpose
    • Strength
    • Flexibility
    • Hardness
    • Texture
    • Absorbency
    • Collect
    • Appropriate


    Students know:
    • Properties of materials (e.g., strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, absorbency) Different uses for the materials.
    • The relationship between properties of materials and some potential uses (metal is strong, paper is absorbent, etc.).


    Students are able to:
    • Conduct simple tests to collect and display data about the physical properties of various materials.
    • Analyze data to identify and describe relationships between properties and their potential uses.


    Students understand that:
    • Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence about the relationship between properties of materials and their intended uses.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect
    Link to Resource

    CR Resource Type

    Lesson/Unit Plan

    Resource Provider


    Resource Provider other

    American Chemical Society

    License Type