Cardboard boat regatta designed to engage students, Craig community
October 8, 2011
Friday’s cardboard boat regatta results:
• Fastest boat — “Imperial Destroyer,” Matt Balderston and Ben East
• Best design — “Thundercats,” Ryan Zehner, John Kirk, Joe Hendershott
• Titantic award — “Titantic II,” Spencer Hebert and Katlyn and Nicole Sollenberger
Spencer Hebert furrowed his brow as he tried to think of a name for the vessel at his feet.
"It has to have something to do with sinking," said Hebert, a Moffat County High School junior, looking at the craft made of cardboard and duct tape as it waited on the shore of the pond at Loudy-Simpson Park.
Hebert, along with Katlyn and Nicole Sollenberger, also juniors, made the boat for the sixth cardboard boat regatta Friday, an annual competition in which students make boats out of cardboard, duct tape and little else.
Finally, Hebert settled on a name: "Titanic II.
The craft was one of several that took to the frigid waters at the park. And, while students enjoyed the experience, there was a deeper purpose behind the annual race.
The regatta is part of the school's Science Olympics, which also includes a pumpkin chucking contest and a sled race.
"It's trying to get students involved in science and … to see how you could actually have fun with it," said Stephanie Harvey, an MCHS chemistry teacher.
A crowd that included parents, teachers and students gathered on the shore to watch the regatta.
"It's become a huge event," Harvey said. "It seems like it gets bigger and bigger, and the whole community takes part."
A few feet from "Titanic II" sat "The Imperial Destroyer," a square, silver boat piloted by MCHS juniors Matt Balderston and Ben East, who were dressed as a storm trooper and Darth Vader, respectively.
"We did some calculations to see the surface area needed to hold both Ben and I's weight in the boat," Balderston said, adding that the bottom of the boat was designed so that it sliced through the water.
"We're hoping to do pretty well, but if we don't, we won't be too disappointed with it," he added.
But John Kirk, an MCHS senior, did more than just hope. The craft he built with fellow seniors Ryan Zehner and Joe Hendershott was "perfectly designed with the expectation to win," he said.
While other boats looked like traditional watercraft, their vessel was simply four hollow tubes connected in the shape of a rectangle.
There was no bottom and no hull.
"We figured it might be most efficient if we went with a pontoon-style boat rather than just kind of a flat-bottomed (boat) made of cardboard boxes," Zehner said. "I think it will have much less drag than every other design that we've seen so far, and I also think it's much sturdier."
At about 3:30 p.m., the regatta began. At one or two at a time, the boats went on the water.
Some sank almost immediately, prompting cries and a few good-natured heckles from the crowd. Some, though, stayed afloat — like the pontoon floated by Zehner, Kirk and Hendershott.
And, when Zehner stepped off the boat and onto shore, he was ecstatic.
"I think that design-wise, we kind of dominated," he said.
He was right — their craft won the best design award.
Others, however, weren't so lucky.
"Titantic II" wasn't on the water long before it lived up to its ill-fated namesake.
"We have a breach," someone yelled from the shore as a tear in its cardboard hull widened.
The bow went under first, followed by the stern. Hebert and the Sollenbergers had no choice but to swim for shore, leaving the sodden cardboard wreck behind them.
Hebert got his wish. And, judging by the cheers, the craned necks and the smiles, the crowd got something out of the event, too.
"We want the community involved," said Amber Clark, a Moffat County High School science teacher. "It's not just for our science classes. It's for everyone."
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