DIY Paddle Boat For Kids (Video)

Water science experiment is always a hit for the kids.

One of the coolest summer activities for kids is building a paddle boat.

Building a paddle boat is so easy and so much fun.

The boat makes a great toy.

You can use it on a pond, in a pool or even in a bathtub.

Just use things you probably already have around the house.

We have chosen to use pencils, rubber bands and little foam shapes

Let’s get started.


Build a paddle boat science experiment

How To Build A Paddle Boat

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Here is how to make a paddle boat.


  • shallow plastic container
  • 3 large rubber bands
  • 2 pencils / popsicle sticks
  • cardboard, thick piece of paper or foam shapes


  • large bucket or a "pond" for the boat to drive
  • adult supervision


  1. Using a rubber band, wrap the two pencils onto the plastic container, one on each side.

    2 pencils, 4 foam shapes, several rubber bands and a small plastic containers used to build a paddle boat
    Rubber band binds pencils to the container on both sides
  2. Put one more rubber band binding the two pencils behind the boat, and another one in front of the boat for balance.

    rubber band on both front and back for balance in this paddle boat
  3. Cut the cardboard into 4 small pieces that are small enough to fit in the space between the two pencils.
  4. On each cardboard, make a cut in the middle but stop half the way (do not cut it all the way).
  5. Put 2 pieces of cardboard together by sliding one slit onto the other to make a rotating paddle. Do the same to the other 2.

    Make paddle wheels by cutting slits in the foam shapes
  6. Fit the paddles onto the rubber bands.
  7. To make them rotate, twist the paddles on the rubber bands to wind them up.

    Put the foam paddles in between the front rubber band and twist it
  8. Although there are two paddle wheels, you can use only one of them or both. The second wheel is there for balancing the boat so it doesn't tilt. If you use both, be sure to turn both wheels in the same direction.
  9. Without releasing the twists, place the boat on the water and then let go.
  10. Observe which direction the boat goes.

    paddle boat made from pencil, foam shapes and rubber bands is placed in water

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Did you try this project?

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You have just built a paddle boat! In a real paddle boat, the spinning drum of paddle boards acts as oars, pushing against the water as it rotates.

Paddle boats were widely used in the early 19th century as an unique form of marine transportation.

A steam engine was used to drive a paddle wheel for propulsion and so they were called steamboats.

In this experiment, the paddles were driven by the unwinding rubber band, which you manually winded before putting it into the water.

So the kinetic energy from your hand was converted into the potential energy in the winded rubber band, which in turned was converted into the kinetic energy of the band as it unwinds and the paddles move as a result.

Want more engineering projects?

Try one of these comprehensive engineering kits.

Handmade paddle toy boat in water.

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