Emily Norris, front, and Emily Hepworth ride in a boat titled "Rubber Ducky" at the Moffat County science department's Science Olympics Cardboard Regatta on Friday afternoon at Loudy-Simpson Park.  Teams built their boats out of cardboard only and were supplied a limited amount of duct tape to hold the boats together.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Emily Norris, front, and Emily Hepworth ride in a boat titled "Rubber Ducky" at the Moffat County science department's Science Olympics Cardboard Regatta on Friday afternoon at Loudy-Simpson Park. Teams built their boats out of cardboard only and were supplied a limited amount of duct tape to hold the boats together.

Unusual projects invigorate students' scientific interest

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Scott Smith, left, and Cory Vigil swim ashore after their boat "SS Bulldog" fell apart at the halfway point. Teams were only disqualified once the team members were swimming.

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Velvet Warne, a Moffat County freshman, waits as she's pulled ashore by her teammate. Teams were graded on speed and creativity.

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Steven Soos, left, and Seth Eriksen, not pictured, of team "Sinkers" battle Hannah Terrill, right, and Autumn Taylor at the halfway point during the race. Buoys were set in place as halfway points and for each set of two teams to crisscross.

— A funny thing happened to Clint Gabbert, a Moffat County High School junior, when he found dry land Friday afternoon on the grassy shores of Loudy-Simpson Park.

He felt his shirt and noticed what wasn't there.

"No wetness," said Gabbert, after his "White Pearl" cardboard boat finished it's maiden voyage during the high school's 2nd Annual Science Olympics. "Other than a splash, I'm dry."

Gabbert, and seniors Katie Carla Petterson, Destiny Garcia and Gricelda Quezada, comprised the team that designed and built the "Pearl," a 4-feet wide, 10-feet long hulk of a cruiser that safely navigated the first run of the park pond. They were one of 25 teams and 100 students participating in the Science Olympics' Cardboard Regatta.

The 100 students participating represented about 15 percent of the high school's total student body, said Roger Spears, MCHS science teacher and department head.

Students were tasked with building a boat using nothing but cardboard, duct tape, sealant, and some good old-fashioned spit, glue and ingenuity.

The teachers do not help the students with their boats, Spears said.

"We just throw the idea out at them," he said.

Just as imaginative as the all-shapes and all-sizes vessels entered into Friday's Regatta were the names christened for each. The "White Pearl" was joined by, easily enough, the "Black Pearl," the "SS Bulldog," "Red Neck," and the "Rubber Ducky," among others.

The "White Pearl" crew spent five days working after school, or about 20 hours total, designing and fabricating their boat.

Gabbert said he was surprised the boat made it through the first voyage so easily.

"We thought it was going to sink," he said.

But sink it did not. And neither did several others.

Spears said he was impressed with the creativity of some of the ship builders.

"Compared to last year's designs," Spears said smiling, "I think they learned a lot from last year."

The Regatta is one of four events the students will compete in throughout the year during the Science Olympics. Other events include sled building (also out of cardboard), "pumpkin chuckin'" and rocketry.

Rocketry, a new event added this year, takes flight in the spring and requires students' rockets to launch at least 750 feet, carrying an egg, and land with the egg still intact in 45 seconds.

The Science Olympics are not graded events, but done merely "just for the fun of it," said Stephanie Harvey, a high school chemistry teacher. She was one of five science teachers coordinating Friday's Regatta either from the park dock or on the water for safety.

Harvey said the Science Olympics are meant to stimulate students' attraction to science.

"We're trying to get them interested in science," she said. ":They look forward to it, and people from the community come out to watch. Hopefully, it's going to be something we can keep going, a tradition."

Gabbert exhibited some of the zeal teachers were hoping to bring out. He said he and his crew were pleased with the "White Pearl" and were ready for more trips around the pond buoys.

"It could have kept going," he said. "We're ready to go out for round 2."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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