TROY — On Friday morning, a flotilla of cardboard boats took over the pool at the Miami County YMCA Robinson Branch.
They floated about as well as you’d expect boats made of paper and tape to float.
The students of Tippecanoe High School teacher Annette Malott’s engineering principles class were tasked with constructing boats using only cardboard, tape and a pair of scissors. It was the first time the class had attempted the experiment.
The most successful craft, which made it the length of the pool before falling apart, was designed and piloted by Matthew Boerger and Ben Stueve.
Stueve said they started by calculating the surface area based on weight, but realized “we were overthinking things.” They then started designing a smaller boat with a layered hull to provide air pockets for better flotation. They also tried to stabilize their boat with additional cardboard boxes for ballast.
“It’s all about the flotation,” Boerger said.
The main purpose of the engineering principles class is to learn how the engineering world works, Boerger said.
“A lot of it is about efficiency with what you’re given,” he said. “Cardboard is not an ideal material, but part of being an engineer is working with what you have.”
The class has been working on calculations using Archimede’s principle, which states that the buoyant force on a submerged object is equal to the weight of the fluid that is displaced by the object. Students had to estimate the volume they needed to displace to stay afloat.
“It was a fun experience,” Malott said. “Definitely worth getting a little wet.”
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