CNY Steamboat Challenge

The 2022 CNY Steamboat Challenge will be on Saturday, October 15, in-person at the MOST.

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).

Teams design and build their steamboats to bring to the MOST, boats are timed in two separate heats and scored on their fastest attempt.

We plan to host the event in person with distanced stations and masks required. Event staff will make the final determination (in-person vs virtual), one week before the event date. All participants and team leaders will be notified by email if any changes occur.


Category Description Points Possible
Boat Specifications– Boat does not exceed 6” wide (side to side) 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
(Oral Interview –
No Materials/Slides)
– 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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