SAILOR Boatbuilding Program

The SAILOR STEM Boatbuilding initiative connects under-served middle and high school students in the Philadelphia area to the water. This program targets young minds to encourage interest and understanding in Engineering, Mathematics, and the Sciences in addition to team building, problem solving, and leadership.

Independence Seaport Museum has carefully considered the health and safety of the patrons, members, and students it serves and has decided to offer a virtual SAILOR program for the 2020-2021 school year.  Students will create various boat models as means to learn how boats are built, why they float, and how they move.  We will touch on various concepts including displacement, buoyancy, and the Pythagorean Theorem, and the engineering design spiral.  Geometry will also play a critical role in the construction process.


Below is a brief outline of the two course options.



12 Week Program (Option #1)

Begins the Week of October 5

Cost: $300 per student

Materials will be provided to each student


During the first 3 weeks students will discover why boats float and learn about the 3 main types of propulsion.  Students will then be tasked with designing and testing various hull shapes.


In subsequent weeks, students will dive deeper into boatbuilding concepts through model making.  We will start with 3 paper models and discuss their designs and purposes.  A wooden model of a rubber band powered boat will also be examined as it relates to design.


The final projects for the students will be to create a boat of their own design by using everything they have learned during the virtual course.  These boats will be made from recycled materials and powered by solar energy.




24 Week Program (Option #2)

Cost: $500 per student

Materials will be provided to each student


In this year long course students will participate in the same activities as the 12 week program but will also have virtual visits from various trade and industry professionals.  Students will also complete mini presentations to their classmates on the key concepts discussed throughout the program.



For further information and options for scheduling, please send an e-mail 



SAILOR is generously supported in part by the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust.

SAILOR in the news: 

This motorboat, the Jawn, is the handiwork of Philly teens | 

CBS3 SummerFest: Local Teens Build Boat at Independence Seaport Museum | CBS Philly 


Interested in participating?  Please contact us 


See what students have been up to in our SAILOR STEM Boatbuilders blog