Land ahoy! Young engineers launch giant origami paper boat

Pupils from Tottenham UTC helped to launch a giant-sized origami boat on Southwark Boating Lake in South London to mark the 50 day countdown to the annual The Big Bang Fair, which promotes careers in STEM subjects to young people.

The boat, capable of carrying an adult safely, was 3.6 metres (almost 12 foot) long. Almost 100 metres of paper were used to make the boat – that’s the length of a football field.

The Big Bang Fair invited Morwenna Wilson, a direct descendent of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who is herself an award-winning engineer, to captain the boat on its maiden voyage.

Morwenna works for Argent in London as a mechanical engineer, and is currently leading several major projects at London King’s Cross Railway Station.

Morwenna Wilson said: “Engineering runs in my family, and I really want to show young people that this career can open doors to amazing opportunities and adventures. From creating a huge origami boat, constructing a new skyscraper, or designing an aeroplane, so many things we travel on, live in or use in our everyday lives involve engineering.”

A team of engineers worked on the project, and due to its vast size had to make certain modifications to the traditional paper boat model. To ensure that the boat was stable enough that it didn’t capsize when someone stepped on it, a keel made of wood was added underneath the boat.

For safety, a polystyrene block was also added into the supporting pyramid, and ridged paper in the base of the boat created a platform strong enough for someone to stand on.

The team also used a specialist paper which is stronger and more water-resistant. This was necessary as it was in the water for much longer than a standard small-scale paper boat.

Year 10 pupil Daniella Jennings, 15, from Tottenham UTC, London said: “It was cool to see how they managed to make a huge version of the kind of paper boats you can make at home. I didn’t even realise that was something engineers could do!”

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK said: “The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is passionate about showing young people the exciting and rewarding opportunities there are for them in careers in the sciences and engineering.  We hope that The Good Ship Big Bang will excite children to consider new ways of thinking to develop solutions to the way we live our lives in the future.”

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair takes place at NEC, Birmingham from 11-14 March 2015.  To register or for more information visit

For a full step-by-step guide to creating your own small scale version of this origami paper boat, visit:

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