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VIDEO: Clarence High School Students Show Engineering Skills With Cardboard Boats

VIDEO: Clarence High School Students Show Engineering Skills With Cardboard Boats
Updated

Students in Clarence High School’s Engineering Design and Development class showed off their engineering talents as their cardboard boats took to the high school’s pool.

In addition to racing their classmates with seven passengers on board, they also were tasked with creating designs that could hold as many passengers as possible. During the capacity tests, students pressed together as they paddled with their cardboard oars to the ends of the pool, where additional riders were brought on board.

“It was exhilarating,” said Austin Carter, whose boat was the last one floating in the pool before it capsized shortly after adding its 22nd passenger. “We didn’t know where we’d put everybody, but they kept jumping in.”

The event has been held for more than five years, but this year’s was seen as the largest ever due to a donation of large pieces of cardboard from Niagara Sheets LLC. In addition to cardboard, the boats are built with duct tape and sheets of plastic for the boat’s underside. Students spent weeks getting their boats ready for race day.

Teacher Thomas Maroney said he was impressed that all 13 of the student boats found success, and that students embraced the challenge of testing their designs. 

“I said, ‘Let’s max out the boats and see where it takes us,’” he said. 

The April 25 event drew a large crowd of fellow students, staff and participants’ families and area media to the high school pool, and students showed their creativity with decorations to their boats and costumes. Among the inspirations for the students’ boat designs were pirates, a beach party, Vikings, bananas, superheroes, a Volkswagen Bus and celebrity chef Guy Fieri. 

“You saw the smiles on their faces,” Maroney said. “Engineering can be a lot of fun.”

Beyond the engineering principles and design work for students, the event required students to work together as a team to find success.

“Being able to work with other people is the most valuable part of this,” said senior Sammi Cummings. “Not everyone is going into engineering, and being able to work with other people is the most important thing.”

The class is one part of the high school’s Engineering/Technology Department, which combines hands-on learning with STEM challenges through its coursework. Classes are divided into two routes: Semester-long courses working with robotics and materials like wood and metals, and year-long Project Lead the Way courses. The Project Lead the Way courses, built on the national organization’s curriculum, can create opportunities for students to obtain college credits through Rochester Institute of Technology and receive special recognition at graduation.

More information about the classes can be found at https://www.clarenceschools.org/schools/clarence-high-school/academics/project-lead-the-way.

 

Students paddle a cardboard boat in the pool at Clarence High School
A student cardboard boat carrying 19 passengers capsizes in the pool of Clarence High School on April 25, 2024.
A student boat travels across the pool at Clarence High School on April 25, 2024.
Students watch as Clarence High School’s Engineering Design & Development Class holds their annual cardboard boat races on April 25, 2024.
Clarence High School students show off their costumes while taking part in their Engineering Design & Development class’ annual cardboard boat races on April 25, 2024.
Students gave their boats special design themes, which drew inspiration from pirates, Vikings and even celebrity chef Guy Fieri.