Students Sink and Swim in Annual SCSD Cardboard Boat Race

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Could you make a functioning boat out of cardboard and row it down the length of a pool without it collapsing? Many SCSD students were able to do just that, in the 17th annual Cardboard Boat Race, held at Fowler High School.
Students from Danforth, Frazer, Huntington, Fowler, Corcoran, ELMS, Clary, Ed Smith and the Johnson Center for Adult Education participated in the event, to find out if their vessels would sink or swim in the pool.
Fowler science teacher Jaime Hoey has coordinated the event for three years and said the students’ excitement is what she enjoys most. “This event challenges students to solve a problem, getting cardboard to float, and also gives them a chance to work together,” she explained. “I like seeing their pride in their finished boat and the anticipation of the race.  The students get a taste of engineering and science in a fun and interactive way.”
Teams worked together to create innovative techniques to lead them to success, including adding features to improve buoyancy and even finding unique ways to navigate. One team from Clary Middle School created a flat platform for their captain to sit atop while rowing, while Fowler senior Shianna Huynh rode in what looked like two small cardboard canoes taped together.
“I rode with a knee in each side,” she explained. “Our teacher had the idea! It was supposed to be two of us, but the other person bailed, so I thought: why not try connecting them!”
Danforth seventh grader Justin Colucci explained that his team’s boat, featuring an intricate dragon design, was insulated with double and triple layered cardboard which took the team a month and a half to make.
Huntington fifth grader Rylee Smith explained the science behind her team’s pirate theme boat, complete with a mermaid on the front, a paint job that made the boat look as if it was made of planks, and even a ‘treasure chest’ box inside! “We used paper mache on the sides to make it more buoyant,” she shared.
While the highlight of the event was cheering on their peers as they tested their boats, there was also an element of competition at play and teams showed varying levels of confidence in how their boats would perform.
Danforth eighth grader Rakim Gunn took pride in his “Spirit of Minecraft” boat, based off of his favorite computer game, Minecraft. But as another school’s boat was hoisted into place, he exclaimed, “Oh, man… we’ve met our match!”
Huntington fifth grader Alyssa Long did not hesitate in her confidence of her team’s completed product. “Our chances of winning are good because I have rowing experience,” she said. “I also know to put my body in the back of the boat to keep it even.”
Danforth sixth grader Devon Colucci was equally confident in his Pokemon-inspired boat. “We’ll likely win because I’ll be in it—I’m the lightest of everyone,” he asserted.
Clary eighth grader DJ Yadav only gave his team 50% odds, saying the boat’s sturdiness was most likely to be the key to success. He attributes this to the care the team took in planning. “First, we made a small model, and our teacher gave us ideas to improve it from there,” he explained. “We made side blocks and put 5 cardboard blocks underneath.” DJ was one of the lucky students to remain dry, easily rowing his team’s creation across the pool.
To Fowler senior Shianna, though, the ability of her boat to sink or swim wasn’t her top concern; rather, she was in it for the experience. “I was so nervous!” she exclaimed. “I taped up all the spaces before the race, just in case. But it’s fun… I’m a senior, so I’ve got to do as much as I can while I’m here!”

The boat race is a fun and educational event, but superlative recognitions are awarded at both the high school and middle school levels in various categories. Congratulations to this year’s winners—and all participating teams—for their hard work!
            Most creative/Most Beautiful: Fowler – The Giraffe; Frazer – Ariel, The Little Mermaid Boat
            Most motivated team: Corcoran – King of the Great Lions; Huntington – W.A.T.R.L.A.S.S.
            Best design: Corcoran – The Mystery Machine; Clary – Trashing Boat
            Fastest time: Corcoran – King of the Great Lions (56 seconds); Clary – Trashing Boat (49 seconds)
            Most spectacular sinking: Fowler – Senior Invasion; Danforth – The Poke Boat