Design a floating rig


About one-third of the world’s total reserves of oil and gas lie offshore below the ocean.

Your task is to design a model of a structure that can support an offshore exploration rig that will remain upright and can float on water.

The rig is used to work out what products, such as crude oil or gas, may be below the surface of the sea floor.

View images of some offshore exploration rigs here.

Imagine your floating rig and draw your designed solution. List the materials you need for your design.

Build, test, and modify the floating rig.

Your rig needs pontoons and anchors to ensure its position on the ocean surface. It also needs to pass a number of tests before it can put to sea. These include:

  • Float test – When placed in water, does it float?
  • Wave test – Does it survive when you make small waves?
  • Large wave test – Does it survive when you make big waves?
  • Rain test – Does it survive when rained on (use a watering can)?
  • Heavy storm test – Does it survive in heavy storms (use a bucket of water)?
  • Buoyancy test – Can you add water to the pontoons to simulate appropriate buoyancy?
  • Wind test – Can the anchors, pontoons, and rig survive strong winds?


(Copyright: Australian Science Teachers Association 2020, except where indicated otherwise. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.)