(1) Steam engine cycle
Pop-pop boats are a wonderful way to learn about the basics of a steam engine cycle. And, the come in a wide variety of styles.
Regardless of the style, the underlying physics of the pop-pop boats is the same. Our tutorial on the
flash boiler steam engine cycle that power these is found on the
physics tutorials page.
For those who want to make their own boat, we have a tug boat kit.
With the kit, you can put parts of the steam engine together yourself.
(2) Why boats float
A conceptual approach to the mysteries of Archimedes' Principle is found in
The Amazing Book of Paper Boats. There are suggestions for
at home experiments to prove the idea of buoyancy to yourself in the books introductory chapters.
There are 18 waterproof paper boats to fold and float. Each boat includes historical narrative and explanations of the pertinent nautical terms.
If you get a chance to go on a sail boat, take it! The entire boat is a marvelous demonstration of the science of classical mechanics.
(3) Buoyancy, acceleration, momentum
Experiment with a pop-pop or sail boat. Increase the weight of the boat.
Is is harder to get the boat moving? How is the overall speed of the boat affected? Does it sink?
Use your imagination. Be sure to record your observations. Then, compare your notes with the principles of buoyancy, acceleration, and momentum.