Physics class makes a SPLASH

Local students set sail for physics this week in Hettinger Public School’s pool. As a fun and educational end of the year class project, the high school physics class and the fourth grade class built boats out of nothing but tape and cardboard.

Frank Turner

Fourth grade teacher Joey Erickson and physics teacher Anna Block used the boat project as an enjoyable way to teach physics in both classes and for some friendly competition.
“My kids, the fourth graders, used the project as an opportunity to learn about capacity, volume, and mass,” said Erickson. “We also did a lot of research by watching YouTube videos that dealt with physics and cardboard box designs.”
Erickson’s fourth grade even designed their own prototypes before the big event to make sure they had the best boat design to beat the junior and senior physics class.
She continued, “We went to the pool several weeks before we even started our big boat. We put our boats in the water and tested how long it took to take on water. That was probably my favorite part of the project because everyone got to utilize their own creativity and put their own thought into it.”
Erickson said that this year was the first time Hettinger Public School had ever done a cardboard boat project. The idea for the project originated from viral videos of other schools racing cardboard boats. Earlier in the year, the Scranton High School used the Hettinger pool to do a similar project.
“We saw it on Facebook,” laughed Erickson, “I decided to challenge the high school physics teacher Ms. Block and she said, ‘It is on like Donkey Kong.’”
Once the competition was established, both the fourth grade class and the upper classmen physics class dedicated about two weeks to learning about boat design and building the boats.
“We were limited to only tape and cardboard. We could not coat it in plastic or laminate the cardboard, so we got around that by using packing tape and duct tape,” said senior physics student Brynn Honeyman, “We packing taped our boats for a good five days.”
To meet the requirements of the project, both classes had to make two different types of cardboard boats, a speedboat and a barge. The speedboat had to hold two people and make it from one end of the pool to the other while the barge had to hold as much weight as possible.
On the day of the great boat races, both classes were ecstatic to get their boats in the water.
The first challenge was the speedboat race. Equipped with their kayak paddle and their boats, both the classes raced their way from one end of the pool to the other.
Everyone was cheering their team on. The fourth graders even held up signs to cheer on their classmates as they paddled.
Unsurprisingly, the junior and seniors won the race, however, both class’s cardboard boats managed to make it up and down the pool many times.
The second challenge was to see how many students could fit in the barge boats. Both classes managed to squeeze 7 students into their respective barge.
Honeyman estimated that their barge held over 950 pounds.
Erickson said that the event was a great success and that they are looking forward to embarking on the open waters again next year.
“I do believe that we will do this again in the future,” said Erickson. “It was a wonderful group project where we had to think outside the box.”