Clarksville students build boat with cardboard, duct tape, gel

Clarksville students build boat with cardboard, duct tape, gel

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:21 pm
By: By ANN WALLACE, The Leaf Chronicle

The Messenger 07.28.10
By ANN WALLACE
The Leaf Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE (AP) — In the beginning there was cardboard and in the end it will still be cardboard — just wet, soaked cardboard floating in the Cumberland River.
Several Clarkville High School students are applying physics to boatbuilding this summer.
It’s a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality as the teens scramble about a classroom floor during a Advanced Placement Summer Enrichment Program trying to make something out of practically nothing at all.
Using their knowledge of physics the rising seniors were tasked to create a cardboard boat for the 2010 Riverfest River Regatta scheduled Sept. 11.
“We are living by the Regatta rules,” said CHS physics teacher Paul Mittura.
The toolbox for Regatta boatwrights can only contain five materials: cardboard, duct tape, silicone sealant, construction adhesive and paint.
Students are spending 12 hours in the physics program learning buoyancy basics like the Archimedes Principle.
The CHS teens are intent to design a “Wildcat’ boat capable of winning the race.
“Hopefully, ours won’t sink,” said Andrew Shriver.
“How long does it take to get to the finish line,” asked Brandon Thomas, looking at the sprawling cardboard pieces with a bit of doubt on his face.
Last year’s Riverfest Regatta attracted 26 teams with boats of all different shapes and sizes trying their luck on the Cumberland River.
Whatever finished product the CHS teens are able to construct — it needs to stand against last year’s first place entry by the Actus Special Ops team who crossed the finish line in 1 minute and 11 seconds. The second place winner, The Cumberland Cruisers, was only one second behind at 1:12.
“In the beginning the students had a dream of what they wanted and what the boat would look like, but then the reality of fluid dynamics set in,” Mittura said.
Rain Dartt, who wants to study computer engineering at MIT, was intent “to make something big and pretty-looking that floats on water.”
Laura Miller and Will Shelton said the Regatta project gave them an opportunity to work with different people.
“I’m kind of excited to see where we go with this thing,” said Will as he surveyed the cut-out cardboard forms laying on the floor.
When huddled bodies moved to reveal a canoe-shape about 10 feet long, the word Titanic came to mind.
“If we duct tape the whole thing, maybe we’ll be OK,” said Linh Nguyen.
Beth Heise offered a guess their Regatta entry “might last couple of minutes.”
And Lauren Williams reminded all “the goal is the finish line.”
Regardless who wins Regatta bragging rights in the end, it will still be cardboard, duct tape, silicone sealant, construction adhesive and paint — but, oh what a way to go down.

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