Lesson Focus

Lesson focuses on how canoes, which have been hand built for centuries, have been impacted by engineered materials and manufacturing processes over the years. Student teams design and build a model canoe frame and then cover their frame with everyday materials and test their design in a basin. Student model canoes must be able to float, travel a distance of 4 feet, and support a load. Students then evaluate the effectiveness of their canoes and those of other teams, and present their findings to the class.


Full Lesson Plan
Student Worksheets

Translated Lessons:

Age Levels:

8 – 12


  • Learn about materials engineering.
  • Learn about engineering design.
  • Learn about planning and construction.
  • Learn about teamwork and working in groups.

Anticipated Learner Outcomes

As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • engineering and design
  • problem solving
  • teamwork

Lesson Activities

Students learn how canoes have been built over time, and how materials engineering has made canoes less expensive, more durable, and lighter. Students work in teams to design and build a canoe model out of everyday items, then test their canoe, evaluate their own results and those of other students, and present their findings to the class.


  • Teacher Resource Documents
  • Student Worksheets
  • Student Resource Sheets

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum alignment sheet is included in PDF.