CNY Steamboat Challenge

CNY Steamboat Challenge 2020 Results

The CNY Steamboat Challenge is a free annual student STEM competition in “pop-pop” or “putt-putt” boat engineering. Individually or in teams of 2-3, students design and construct a miniature working steamboat powered by a single tealight candle. On competition day, teams present their design to the judges and are scored in 5 categories as well as their boat’s best race time in 2 attempts. Registration is free, and we highly encourage the use of recyclable, recycled, and up-cycled materials for boat construction. Awards are given in three categories: Divisions I (grades 4-6), II (grades 7-8) and III (grades 9-12).

The 2020 Steamboat Challenge was completed on Saturday, October 17 as a virtual event, live-streamed for all participants, families, and members of the public.

Teams designed and built their steamboats to be dropped off at the MOST. Once the boat was submitted, each team received a scheduled time (between 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM) to join their virtual judging session on Challenge Day and discussed their boat design and answered judge questions for 5-7 minutes. The Boat Races (presented via event livestream) began at 11:00 AM after judging completed. Boats were timed in two separate heats and scored on their fastest attempt.


Category Description Points Possible
Boat Specifications– 6” wide and 8” long (front to back)
– must float on water of 3” depth
– fueled only by a single standard 1.53” diameter tealight candle
Race Time – 0:00 – 0:30 (25 points)
– 0:31 – 1:00 (20 points)
– 1:01 – 1:30 (15 points)
– 1:31 – 2:00 (10 points)
– 2:01 – higher (5 points)
Student Presentation – Knowledge of engineering/design process
– Explanation of relevant STEM principles
– Teamwork/Collaboration
– Creativity/Innovation Aesthetics/Design
Total Points Possible     100

Instructions & Other Resources:
Sample Boat Instructions with video (Aluminum Can)
Sample Boat Instructions (Copper Pipe)
Sample Boat Instructions (Aluminum Can)
Previous Challenges – see the boats in action!

Thank you to our sponsors:

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