Sunday, 19 October 2014

Science: How to make a Steamboat

This was a great little science project this week. All my girls asked the right sort of questions so it was easy to fill them in with the scientific facts: the hows and whys.
 


Another reason I love this project so much is it's another of those MAKE YOUR OWN TOY moments!

What we used for this project:

  • A creamed cheese container, the bottom of it that is.  Another thing that can be used is an fruit juice carton.
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Cardboard tubing from an empty cling film or foil.
  • Glue
  • Metal tubing thin enough to twist but thick enough to get water into - any decent craft shop should stock this or get it in for you if you ask.
  • A marker pen sized pen
  • A tea-light
  • A lighter
  • The bath!

Instructions:

STEP ONE

Paint your boat, creamed cheese container, and chimney, the cardboard tube cut to a size 6-7cm tall.


STEP TWO

When the paint is dry glue the chimney to the boat, right in the centre and leave to dry.

STEP THREE

Coil your metal tubing around a pen like this...




STEP FOUR

Make two small holes at one end of your boat, make the holes big enough to push the metal tubing through like this...




STEP FIVE

Put a tea-light at the end of the boat where you have made holes.

STEP SIX

Fill the tubing with a little water - this can be done by slowly pouring water through the tube or sucking it through, hold the end to stop the water from escaping.  Place the boat in water before releasing your fingers then the water will stay in the tubing due to the pressure of the water around the opening of the tube.


YOU ARE READY TO SEE IF IT WORKS!

STEP SEVEN

Place your boat in the water and then light the candle.

NOTE: the metal tubing should be aiming down at an angle and be beneath the water, aiming down at an angle like here...



 
 
How does it work?

 
Your Steamboat works because what we are doing is converting heat energy into motion!
 
The candle heats up the small amount of water that is inside your metal tube.  When water is heated it is turned into a gas, this gas is called steam! 
 
Steam takes up more space than water so as it spreads out it is forced out of the tube, pushing the boat in the opposite direction  - in other words this is what pushes the boat forwards.  The great thing about this boat is, when the steam condenses it turns back into water - it is a reversible change.
 
 

Newton's third law of motion:

EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND AN OPPOSITE REACTION.

 
 
The water takes up less space than the steam which lowers the pressure inside the tube, causing water to be sucked back into the tube, the candle heats the water and the steam pushes back out again, this cycle should continue and you should be able to observe your boat moving in little pulses intermittently.
 
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT REVERSIBLE CHANGES TRY THESE YUMMY EXPERIMENTS: 3 EXPERIMENTS ON REVERSIBLE CHANGES.
 
 
The first Steam engine to be built was by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 which was used to pump water out of mines.
 
The first Steamboat was made in 1787 by John Fitch, saying that it was not very successful, the first successful steamboat was invented by Robert Fulton - if you enjoyed this you might want to learn a bit more about these men.
 

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