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Staying afloat: Physics students put cardboard boats to the test

April 5, 2012

LIMA — The vessel was more than midway through its second lap, just 25 yards from its finish-line goal at the Lima YMCA. But then, trouble ahead: Paddles turned flimsy, keeping the boat moving forward a struggle. Onlookers mumbled, “They are taking in water.”“Keep going straight,” senior Zachariah Money, who sat in the middle, shouted to his rowing mates, senior Aaron Mumma and junior Danajia Houston.His commands fell short. Water gushed in and the three went overboard as the cardboard boat, put together with duct tape, capsized. Still, the team of Lima Senior High Progressive Academy students did better than most other teams in Friday's cardboard boat challenge. A few went under before all passengers even made it on board.The juniors and seniors in Justin Richardson's physics class have been studying the applied physics of buoyancy and force. Students in the class earn both high school and college credits through the University of Findlay. The cardboard boat challenge began with students designing boats at a smaller scale and launching them in a water tank at school. From there, work began on the larger boats, and included a lot of troubleshooting. “There were some last-minute changes we did, more reinforcements,” Mumma said, talking about the team's late decision to run tape from one side to the other underneath the boat.Richardson said the project was a fun way for students to apply what they learned. The project is one that has been done by schools and colleges for a long time. This was his first attempt.“I wanted to give them an opportunity to do something really fun,” he said. Students certainly had fun with the project. Some named their boats. One was the Love Boat. Another, Team Bubbles. While most boats finished as just hunks of wet cardboard, one remained somewhat intact. Richardson suspects it was thanks to interior walls.Money's team wished it had a little thicker cardboard. If so, the board would have made that 25 yards to the end, they said. The guys credited Houston's paddles for keeping them afloat.“I just kept remembering that each lap is a grade,” Money said, later describing the project as “fun, stressful, stressful and then fun.”






Staying afloat: Physics students put cardboard boats to the test


Staying afloat: Physics students put cardboard boats to the test


Staying afloat: Physics students put cardboard boats to the test