Africa has some of the largest and most awesome rivers on Earth – Congo, Nile, Zambezi. They all originate in mountain areas.

Africa also hasVictoria Falls (on the Zambezi) the largest sheet of falling water in the world, with 1 million litres pouring over the edge of the Falls every second during the wet season.

Many of these African rivers are populated by Nile Crocodiles, the world’s largest reptiles (up to 7m long and weighing up to 1.5 tonnes) which have barely changed since the time of the dinosaurs.


Nile Crocodile


What this unit will give you

Knowledge to guide your students to complete this project

  • In this project, students will design and build a prototype boat, which is able to avoid capsizing

What this project will give your students

Learning Objectives

Identify scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments.

Compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties.

Draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions.

Project Aim/Question
To design, build and test a boat that cannot be capsized by a crocodile or a hippo.
Key Language
Buoyancy, density, evaluate, diagram, prototype.




Stage 1 - The Wonder of Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is justifiably called one of the Wonders of the Natural World, and spans almost 2km (1 1/4 miles), making it the largest show of its kind on Earth.The sight of more than 9 million litres of water crashing down into the Batoka Gorge is one not easily forgotten.

What you can do
Guide your students through these activities:

  • Students can virtually tour Victoria Falls using the Panoramas in Bing Travel. They are to research what tourists can do when they make a visit to the Falls
  • In pairs, students are to imagine they have visited the falls and write a postcard home
  • They can use the water options in Fresh Paint to capture the art work that will supplement the postcard

BING Travel
Virtually tour Victoria Falls using the Panoramas in Bing Travel


Fresh Paint

Stage 2 - Swimming with Crocodiles

Underwater Encounter with the Nile Crocodile
Following a crocodile attack on the team's cameraman, Ben Fogle and the rest of the expedition decide to continue their underwater crocodile studies. Nervously they approach the territory of a large female crocodile - Tutwana...


How to use Microsoft Photosynth
This YouTube video shows how to use Microsoft Photosynth to generate panoramic pictures with a 360 degree view.

Stage 3 - Testing and Evaluation

What you can do
With your students remaining in their groups, have them test their designs. The tests could include:

  • Weights to simulate the fishing craft’s cargo. These should be placed to one side of the boat and the load increased until the boat capsizes
  • Students can also simulate a river current. The boat that withstands the most pressure is the winner.

Once the testing is finished groups should be given the opportunity to evaluate their design. The experiment can be written up in OneDrive using Word and Excel.

Enrichment Activities

What you can do - Numeracy

  • The construction of the boat can be linked with topics such as movement, direction, rotation and angles
  • Boats also provide a real life context for the idea of scaling and ratio

What you can do - Geography

Using OneDrive students can take and share photographs and videos of rivers in their local area, captioning them with relevant information, such as human impact.


Support for less able students should take the form of shared planning with another teacher or member of support staff.

In order to challenge more able students, try to take a step back and allow groups to take ideas and run with them.