PHS students crash their cardboard boat into others

Senior Kersten Dewey and her partner, junior Ellie Welsch, crash their boat into other boats during the March 21 annual boat races. The winners of the race were seniors Aurora Bosia, Kaitlyn Heyrman and Andrea Roncatti. Hi-Lights photo by Emily Mersberger

From Hi-Lights: Students compete using cardboard boats

Posted May 22, 2017

NOTE: This article appeared in the April/May 2017 edition of the Plymouth High School newspaper, Hi-Lights. Look for a copy in the high school office.

By Matilde Passanha
of the Hi-Lights staff

The first time that PHS did the cardboard boat races was about 20 years ago. Since then, the races have been happening every year for Physics class. This year it happened on March 21.

This competition basically consists of students building the most durable and efficient boats out of cardboard and duct tape. The students had to make groups of two to three people and race each other with the boats that were built during the class. The winner was the group that finished the race fastest based on the weight of the boat.

This year, the group winner was seniors Aurora Bosia, Kaitlyn Heyrman and Andrea Roncatti. Heyrman helped build the boat but didn’t participate on the boat races because she was on vacation.

To calculate the winner, the students had to multiply the mass of the boat by the amount of time that the boat did the races, so the weight of the boat was important as well.

“It was a really small boat because we thought it needed to be lighter than the other boats, so we just used less material,” said Andrea, a foreign-exchange student from Italy.

Overall the races were good, but now that the races are done, there are some details that the students understand they could have done differently.

“Our design was a flat bottom boat that came into a triangular point at both ends,’’ said senior Jacob Welsch.  “One of our walls was very weak so I would reinforce it with cardboard.”

All students had different designs. This activity gave students the freedom to design and build the boat the way they wanted to. Even though the winning team’s boat was small, that didn’t stop them from winning.

“We won. It worked well. We weren’t really balanced, we didn’t go straight, but it was fine,” said Aurora, a foreign exchange student from Italy.

Physics teacher Paul Krzyzaniak, who was responsible for this activity, provided each group with one piece of cardboard and limited use of duct tape to build the boats. He wanted the students to apply what they learn in class to what happens in real life.

“I wanted them to be able to take the information that they have learned about how things float and see if they could actually construct something and give it to float with people as well,” Mr. Krzyzaniak said.

Mr. Krzyzaniak has a habit of taking students out of their usual class environment while still learning a lot, and students appear to like this initiative.

“It was a nice break from just sitting in class and taking notes,’’ said junior Ellie Welsch.