Whatever floats your boat
Students race recycled vessels at Lackey
Students at Henry E. Lackey High School learned what it takes to “float your boat” during a homemade boat race held in the school swimming pool Monday.
The “Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta II” was held Monday during students’ free period, pitting students from advanced placement chemistry, AP physics, AP environmental science and AP psychology classes against each other as they raced to the finish line in boats of their own design made entirely of recycled materials.
Students had one week to research, design and build their boats, said AP environmental science teacher Racheal Wilding-Rizor, who orchestrated the event.
“They were allowed to use anything recycled; the only nonrecycled material that they were permitted to use was duct tape, and that was it,” Wilding-Rizor said. “Including the paddle, that had to be recycled too.”
Wilding-Rizor said they had to find the recyclable materials themselves.
“Some people brought stuff from home, some people went around the school and emptied out the recycling bins, stuff like that,” Wilding-Rizor said.
Each boat was piloted by one student, using a paddle made of recycled materials, Wilding-Rizor said.
“It’s not just about making the boat, but about getting the boat from one side of the pool to the other,” Wilding-Rizor said.
Students did not have an opportunity to test the seaworthiness their boats beforehand, and some of the boats sank at the start or broke up on the way to the finish line.
Sarah Coltman, an 11th grader, was within a few feet of the finish line when her boat broke up, dunking her in the deep end of the swimming pool.
“Our construction wasn’t as good as it could have been. Our materials were good but we ran out of duct tape, so it started filling up with water. By the end it filled up with too much water, and fell apart,” Coltman said.
Coltman said she learned a lot about engineering principles from the experience.
“You’ve got to think things out and account for things,” Coltman said.
Senior Courtney Alvey rowed her boat, the S.S. Outta Here, to the finish line first, winning the competition, along with her teammates, fellow seniors Marcayla Connell, Philip Marini and Rondrell Marshall from the AP environmental science class.
Marshall said the boat was constructed using a plastic container surrounded by styrofoam padding and duct tape.
“We found a video online that we got some ideas from,” Marshall said.
Alvey said the paddle was made from a piece of wood that was being thrown out.
Wilding-Rizor said the competition was not only a fun way to unwind near the end of the school year, but also educational for the students.
“It ties a number of different concepts into an inquiry-based assignment. Although it’s a lot of fun, and they really enjoy it, it’s also teaching them about working in a team to actually make a product, identify recyclable materials, buoyancy is something they have to take into consideration,” Wilding-Rizor said. “It really is a rigorous assignment, but we trick them, by making it fun, which it is.”
Henry Lackey High School senior Courtney Alvey of the “S.S. Outta Here” team took an early lead in the school’s recycled boat race Monday.
From left, Henry Lackey High School students Francesca Rothell, Mariel Santos and D.J. Nelson take part in a recycled boat race held in the swimming pool Monday.
Student teams at Henry Lackey High School prepare to launch their boats in the school swimming pool. The school held a recycled boat race Monday.