June 7, 2023
Physics students compete in annual cardboard boat race
Upper St. Clair High School physics students recently designed, constructed and tested their life-sized cardboard boat designs in the high school’s swimming pool. Before a crowd of hundreds of classmates, students climbed aboard their vessels in a race for first place and bragging rights.
The students are enrolled in Advanced Placement Physics C, taught by Mr. Clayton Yonker.
“Students create four individual boat designs each and calculate the depth their boat will sink with their target loads, volume of boats, area of the bottom of their boats, maximum load their boat can hold, amount of water they’ll displace etc.,” Mr. Yonker said. “Their designs are to be professional with multiple views and dimensions, including an orthogonal view.”
The annual boat races represent the culmination of the students’ efforts.
“The students build a prototype of one of their designs and test it,” Mr. Yonker said. “After testing it, their group finalizes a design and they construct a full-sized boat out of cardboard, glue, tape and plastic for waterproofing.”
Many of the student groups chose to incorporate a theme for their boat and its crew. Themes included Wizard of Oz, pirates, showercaps, Mario Bros., Home Depot, patriotic, Mickey Mouse, sharks and Hawaiian luau.
In the initial round, boats raced to complete eight laps in the pool. Although all boats successfully completed the eight laps without sinking, only the fastest advanced to the finals. The winner of the final round was the Mario Bros. boat.