Design Technology / Enrichment Week 2018

STEM Boat Making

We have spent the last 2 days designing and making a boat which was tested in water on the final day. To understand a little more about boats, we visited Portsmouth on Tuesday, where the America’s Cup Competition was first held. When we got there we were greeted at the door of the Ben Ainslie Building and we then walked up many flights of stairs to the top, where you could see all the way to the Isle of Wight.

When we got into the main room, we watched a short film about the history of the America’s Cup Sailing Competition, which gave us an insight into the how the designs of racing boats have greatly improved over time. We then were allowed to freely look around the room, which was full of information about different materials and how you need to balance out speed and stability in the design of a boat. There were many things to try out which allowed you to experience what it would have been like if you were sailing in the competition. There was a VR headset, the tester boat of last year’s race and outfits which the sailors wore. All of these things allowed us to think about different properties of certain materials and how to alter the boat to either increase or decrease the stability and speed.

We then had a further look at how to reduce the weight of the boat, we found out that this is usually done by making the material into a honeycomb shape. To finish our time off at the Ben Ainslie Building we were given a task to make a bridge across the two hulls on a miniature catacomb boat which would be strong enough to have weights hung off of it. We had limited materials to use to complete the task, and this included some lollypop sticks, straws and masking tape. This was quite a challenge because we needed to evaluate the materials to test which was the strongest and how to position it.

All the groups did exceptionally well, but the group whose bridge performed the best was able to hold more than 13kg of weight! On Wednesday we reflected on what we had learnt the previous day and got to work making our own monohull boats out of wood. We used a program called ‘2D Design’ to create the bulk heads for our boats which were sent to the laser cutter to be made. These were then positioned on a piece of wood and a sail was made in textiles to attach to the mast. These boats were then tested and raced on a lake in Lamorbey Park. All in all, the project has been a success leaving us with much more knowledge about boats than we had before