Sink, Float, Hover Challenge

Required materials:

small containers with lid (film canisters work best), variety of small, heavy objects (coins, washers, marbles, etc.), variety of small, lightweight objects (corks, beads, Styrofoam, etc.), rubber bands (optional to keep lid on canisters or modify distribution of mass), and large containers of water


Students will learn about density, buoyancy, and how submarines dive. Students will design and create a vessel that is able to sink, hover, and float.


Many craft, household or classroom items that you already have will work for this activity and can possibly be reused. Items listed here have already been tested with students as a part of this lesson. Students should be given access to as many or as few materials as you can afford. This allows students to be more creative. 

NGSS alignment:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)  2. Developing and using models 3. Planning and carrying out investigations  4. Analyzing and interpreting data   6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information