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self propelled tug boat for kids

Tug Boat Craft

This tug boat science experiment is all about “storing energy” and also about how the paddle moves the boat forward. Kids will have a blast learning about green energy while also playing in the water!


Tug boat supplies

– Plastic container with the top (we used a margarine container), a plastic lid from another container, acrylic paint, paintbrush, toilet paper tube or empty yogurt cup, scissors, super glue, duct tape, rubberband (you will want a few different ones to make sure you get the best fit), craft sticks


Self Propelled Tug Boat

Step 1: Superglue the craft sticks to each side of your container. You need a very secure seal, which you can get with super glue. Then duct tape the sticks to reinforce the seal. 

Step 2: Take the additional plastic lid and cut out a square shape.  Make it the width of the craft sticks. This will become the propeller of your tug boat.

Tug boat 7

Step 3:  Make and attach your wheelhouse with a toilet paper roll or empty yogurt container. If using a toilet paper roll, cut in half.  Paint the container and wheelhouse whatever colors your child desires.

Tug Boat 8

Step 5:  Put a rubber band around the craft sticks.

Step 6:  Cut two slits into the square piece of the lid and attach them to one side of the rubber band.

Step 7:  Put your tugboat in the water and wind up the motor on the back and watch it go!

Tug boat Science

The key to your tugboat, and what makes this a green energy experiment, is the rubber band. Rubberbands are stretchy and reshape themselves when released. When you change their shape, they are actually “storing” the energy used to change them.

When you let go of the wound rubberband it immediately reverts back to its original shape. When it does this, energy is released. It is this energy that moves the boat forward.

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