Sea worthy crew

After 10 laps back and forth the length of the Wapakoneta Family YMCA pool, two Wapakoneta High School students decided to scuttle their boat. 

Freshman Jarrett Koch and sophomore Keaton Metz had traversed the pool one more length than their nearest competitor, freshman Judy Schaub and sophomore Dakota Stammen, whose cardboard started to deteriorate from being in the water.

Both teams designed boats similar to bass boats as opposed to canoe shapes. Fifteen teams — students from two of MET/CAD teacher Keith Rambin’s classes — competed in the first-ever WHS Cardboard Boat Race.

“I think the first attempt went better than expected,” Rambin said as students cleared their boats from the pool. “We had 15 boats and only two of them didn’t make it off the starting line — they sunk immediately.”

Rambin explained he graded the teams on five criteria. If they were able to get into their boat and float in the water, they received an 80 percent. Boaters who made it a quarter of the way received an 85 percent, with an additional 5 percent for each section of the pool they passed up to a full length for 100 percent.

“I was relatively shocked that only three teams did not make it all the way across the pool,” Rambin said. “Several teams made it across twice and three teams made it across three times. It certainly went better than expected.”

He explained their objective was to design a boat using SolidWorks, one of the design software packages the students use, and then to completely construct it using only cardboard, wood glue, and tape. Their boat must be capable of holding two students and successfully be paddled from one end of the pool to the other without sinking.

The CAD teacher said if he changed anything for next year he would lengthen the amount of time between the last caulking of the vessels and the competition. Some of the boat builders took the time permitted to the limit.

From his viewpoint, he thought the students learned a lot from the experience.

“I think a lot of them were right on in their construction,” Rambin said. “We did the whole Archimedes’ principle, where they had to calculate based on the volume of their boat and how much weight would be in the boat when their boat would sink.”

Archimedes’ principle is a law of physics stating that the upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid the body displaces.

“They all had it down where their boats would sink 3 to 5 inches,” the high school instructor said. “I think as far as sinking they were right on, but obviously some were better constructed than others. Overall, I would have to say today was a success.”

For Koch and Metz, who developed their boat design along with their partner, freshman Aaron Huffman, the key was in the early development phase. 

They consulted the Internet.

“We did a little bit of research regarding what boats worked and then we pretty much threw it together,” Metz said. “As we were building the boat, we could see other people’s ideas and if we didn’t think it would work then we disregarded it. We looked around to see what would work, and if it was a good idea, we incorporated it in our design.”

Their creation included a three-ply cardboard base with the corners caulked and taped.

Schaub and Stammen used the same design. 

“We used a lot of caulking in the corners and we put extra pieces of cardboard on the sides,” Schaub said.

Alex Kollars and Briana Cummins utilized the Internet in the design phase, too.

“We really tried not to have any seams,” Cummins said. “We tried to make it water tight so it wouldn’t leak.”

They also used sheer determination to get across the pool.

“I was just telling her to keep going as we paddled across the pool,” Kollars said. “I think our boat had enough to make it. You have to do it once for a grade and then you just paddle until it falls apart.”

Freshmen Elijah Etzkorn and Luke Severt concentrated on the construction phase.

“We took one large piece of cardboard and folded the piece up the sides so we had one solid piece for the boat,” Severt said. “We put more pieces of cardboard in the sides to reinforce.

“The tape was just used to keep it together and to seal up the corners,” he said.

The construction impressed his partner once it hit the pool.

“I thought it was going down when we put it in the water,” Etzkorn said as the pair made it across the pool three times. “I was actually surprised it went across, but it was certainly sea worthy.”