STEAM Ahead- Nature Raft Craft

STEAM, nature project, raft, floatation, Figment Creative, Austin, TX , 28 Days of STEAM, nature raft craft

This nature raft craft came about through trial and error, born like most of the projects we do around here.  When you’re working in a maker space / STEAM lab, you’re constantly examining, questioning, and then tweaking your designs.  Something may start out as one thing, but then it evolves along the way.  Remember, we are creating creative thinkers;  questioning and experimenting are huge parts of the process.  So, let’s start at the beginning.

  1. I asked the kids, “What should we use to create a raft?  Something that floats.”
  2. Someone suggested that we use the large straws that we have.  Great idea!
  3. We made rafts using the large smoothie straws and masking tape.
  4. We tested them out.
  5. They worked well, except once the water got into the straws, it weighed the rafts down and the rafts sank.
  6. I asked, “What else could we use that wouldn’t collect water?”

The answer: WOOD!

STEAM, nature project, raft, floatation, Figment Creative, Austin, TX , 28 Days of STEAM, nature raft craft

What you will need to make a cool twig raft:

What to do:

  1. Cut or break two 5-inch twigs.
  2. Cut some 7-inch twigs.  We cut six 7-inch sticks.  Just make sure you fill up the space the two bottom pieces offer.  Roughly 4.5-inches.  Don’t over think it.  You will be able to tell what works best for your raft.
  3. Place the two shorter sticks down as a base.
  4. Hot glue all the longer sticks down.
  5. Reinforce along the edges with the twine, weaving in and out.  Tie off ends.
  6. You can add a smaller twig as the mast and add a triangle piece of fabric as the sail if you like.

We had fun floating our twig raft in a baby pool.  We noticed that if we let the water from the hose run, it created a current.  My son decided to try using one of the smoothie straws to create his own air flow.  He was trying to see if he blew it, would it push the sailboat along faster?  He soon found out this was not the best way to propel the boat, but it kinda worked.

Of course, I decided to use this project as an excuse to get him into the bath.  Worked perfectly!  The raft and my plan.

What is the STEAM in this project?

You are questioning like a scientist.  Figuring out what works best.  You will use math to make sticks that are equal lengths.  You are creating something .

Why does wood float?

Wood has a lot of air in it.

Safety Tips:

An adult should go over hot glue gun safety tips and supervise.  An adult should also be present if a child is near water testing out the raft.

This is part of the 28 Days of STEAM series.

28 days of STEAM, Wee Warhols, Left Brain Craft Brain, STEAM Kids