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Jul 052013

I remembered learning how to make a rubber-band powered boat out of a Styrofoam plate when I was young, and just knew it would make for some thrifty summer fun. This project was a hit at my house. Kids making their own toys — what’s not to love? It’s frugal and it keeps the kids busy during the summer.

The supplies are simple. You’ll need a rubber band, scissors, marker, straight edge and some type of material that will float and can be cut with scissors. We didn’t have any foam plates on hand, so we used a piece of cardboard that we covered with duct tape to make it more water-resistant.

The exact measurements are not really important here. Since you’ll be using “found” (and free) materials, adapt the proportions as needed.

1. Use a ruler or straight edge to draw a rectangle on one end of your cardboard, leaving an inch or so on on either side. On the other end, draw the “boat” shape (see photo).
Draw your boat shape on one end and a rectangle on the other

2. Cut out your rectangle, and set that piece aside. You’ll need it later to use as a propeller. Then cut around your boat-shaped lines.
Cut along the lines you drew for your rubber band powered boat

3. Now take the rectangle that you set aside and trim it by about a quarter of an inch on all sides. This doesn’t have to be exact, but it will need room to move freely when it is placed back into the space you cut it from.
Trim the piece that will become your propeller

4. If you used cardboard, aslwe did, you may want to cover your pieces with duct tape so your boat doesn’t get soggy and sink.
To make your toy boat water tight, cover the pieces with duct tape

5. Slip the rubber band onto your boat, over the empty space you cut out. Place the propeller (the rectangle you cut out and trimmed) into the rubber band, wind it up, and let it go. Does it move freely? You might find that you need to trim it a bit more.
Put the rubber band onto the boat and slip the propeller in between the bands

6. Wind up the propeller again…
Wind the propeller on your rubber band boat

7. Now that your propeller is wound, just place the boat in a bathtub or backyard pool and let it go!

See the video tutorial: rubber band boat

Carolyn Erickson

Carolyn Erickson is a freelance writer with expertise in business-to-consumer writing and editorial. During her career, she's helped companies like Time Warner Internet, Ethan Allen, Gold's Gym, Stanley Steemer, Empire Vision Centers and others reach local customers with their marketing messages. Her writing has received awards from the Kansas Professional Communicators and the National Federation of Press Women. Most recently, Carolyn has parlayed her experience in digital media as the owner of Wichita on the Cheap into helping small businesses and non-profit organizations establish an Internet and social media presence – on the cheap, of course.

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