Physics students test 'seaworthiness' of cardboard boats

Jun 1 2011 - 11:29pm

Images

ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Jenna Hunsaker and Kaden Howell, both 17 and juniors at Clearfield High, laugh as their boat begins to take on water during the annual Clearfield High School Physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Northridge High School junior Whitney Schlueter, 17, laughs as the cardboard boat she and Zoe Koch, 17, built capsized shortly after they launched it during the annual Clearfield High School Physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Clearfield sophomore Austin Goff, 15, and Randy Munoz, 18, paddle their cardboard boat during the annual Clearfield High School physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Jenna Hunsaker and Kaden Howell, both 17 and juniors at Clearfield High, laugh as their boat begins to take on water during the annual Clearfield High School Physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Northridge High School junior Whitney Schlueter, 17, laughs as the cardboard boat she and Zoe Koch, 17, built capsized shortly after they launched it during the annual Clearfield High School Physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Clearfield sophomore Austin Goff, 15, and Randy Munoz, 18, paddle their cardboard boat during the annual Clearfield High School physics Cardboard Boat Regatta on Wednesday at the north Willard Bay Marina in Willard.

WILLARD BAY -- The two-passenger, pontoon-shaped, paddle-powered cardboard boat designed by Clearfield High School juniors Mikey Steinke and Kyle Irvin skimmed across the bay, covering the 70-meter route in one minute flat.

The plain corrugated cardboard creation, consisting of a series of triangles covered in 10 rolls of silver duct tape, easily bested the times of its closest competitors by more than a half-minute.

"We figure triangles are the strongest shape. These pontoons are taped triangles," said a dry Irvin.

"Really strong, really buoyant," Steinke added.

The boat created by the two physics students was one of more than 40 cardboard boats entered in the 2011 Clearfield High Physics Invitational Cardboard Boat Regatta.

The regatta, which included physics students from Northridge High School in Layton, took place Wednesday at Pelican Beach at the Willard Bay North Marina.

The regatta has been held for 15 to 20 years, first beginning at the old Clearfield Municipal Swimming Pool, said Wilson McConkie, Clearfield High School physics teacher. The annual regatta, conducted for student extra credit, was moved to Willard Bay out of fear that waterlogged, disintegrating cardboard would come loose from the boats and plug the pool filter.

There was one year the event returned to the new Clearfield Aquatic Center, but it was moved back to Willard Bay the following year because the setting the bay provides allows students to paddle their two-passenger cardboard boats out 35-meters into the bay around a buoy before returning to shore.

Participants in the competition are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, McConkie said.

The PFDs came in handy this year, as many entries slowly decomposed from underneath the students, with students having to swim pulling what was left of their boats back to shore.

One student who dragged a boat back to shore in pieces reminded participants and observers that the bay water is "way freakin' cold" this time of year.

Most students successfully navigated around the halfway-point buoy and back to shore, while some boats, because of their design, began to take on water immediately.

"I didn't think it would take on water that quick," said Kaden Howell, 17, a junior at Clearfield High.

Howell said it took him and fellow student Jenna Hunsaker about five hours to design the square-shaped boat they called "Da Box" that held water like an aquarium.

And then there was Trevor Nuttall, a Northridge High junior, who used cardboard construction cylinders to make a three-passenger boat for himself, his friend Brock Embley and his best friend, Molly, a 2-year-old border collie.

Although the boat, which had a prop airplane design, didn't make the best time, Molly, equipped with her own special flotation device, did seem to enjoy the ride. Even after Nuttall and Embley were able to paddle their boat ashore, Molly remained in her seat in the event her sail mates would attempt an encore performance.

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