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In depth: What makes a boat float?

Have you talked about forces in school yet? If so, you are in luck because we are about to talk a lot about forces.

Boats float because water pushes up on the bottom of the boat. You also know another force that affects boats: gravity. Gravity pushes down on boats while water pushes up.

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You may hear about Archimedes Principle. Over 2000 years ago, Archimedes found a simple way to figure out if boats float. It has three steps:

  1. Determine the weight of the boat.
  2. Determine the weight of the water the boat moves out of the way.
  3. If the water weighs less than the boat, then it will sink.

This relationship also shows that if a boat is floating, then it moves exactly that weight of water away.

Here is a great video that shows this relationship and its interesting history.

In FLEET, you can see the forces of gravity and forces of buoyancy whenever your ship is on the water.

Two vertical forces balance out when a boat is floating on the water.