Cool school pool races offer fun, serious learningSubmitted photo Evan Schumacher, in the foreground, and Katarina Greenwood appear to be having fun in the ninth grade advance placement general science class boat races last week.
Thursday Jan. 20 seven teams of ninth graders competed in a five-minute boat race across the high school pool to prove a scientific fact: Any fluid can be used to create pressure and exert forces on objects.
Kristi Graetz, who teaches a ninth grade general science honors class, explained further.
“In class we use water as our fluid to create forces. Students learn that because water can create an upward buoyant force on objects, it can sometimes allow the object to float.
“Through a series of labs…students…have to figure out what determines how strong the buoyant force can be that acts upon objects in water.
“Once they discover this, they are asked to…design and build a boat out of cardboard, plastic and adhesives that is capable of holding them up in water in the school’s pool.”
In their attempts to visually and physically experience those “forces” of nature and comply with Graetz’s assignment, her students grouped into seven teams. They were then given three days to carefully construct seven boats during class time that could take them across the pool in a relay race of sorts without sinking.
The boats turned out to be fashioned in many different shapes and sizes. They were large and small; one was mouse-shaped; one sported a windshield; one had fins and rudders.
Some had creative names: “The Rotten Egg,” “The Boat 2 Victory,” and “The Mario Unicorn.”
Graetz’s said, “(The students) could build their boats out of cardboard, plastic and any adhesives that they wanted to. I tried to get them to use things they had at home so that they didn’t have to go out and buy anything.”
Most students used cardboard as their boats’ main component that was wrapped in large plastic garbage bags or many strips of duct tape. Also, to be able to move across the pool and back, students used ordinary wooden or plastic boat paddles, ping pong paddles and one team even used a snow shovel.
“This is the sixth year that I have done this with my honors students,” said Graetz. “Each year I have two sections of the class, so I get to have two races a year and I look forward to them each time.”
Graetz said her students “…all made amazing boats.”
“The kids truly did an outstanding job,” she continued. “I gave them a few helpful hints, but not too many. I wanted to see what they could come up with on their own.
“Each year I am surprised by their designs and effort, and this year was no exception. They worked really hard all three days that they were given time to work on this, and it all had to be made in class. They could not bring it home.
“It was really fun to see their final products and they should all be proud of what they created.”
Competitive teams earn awards
These are the results of the races and awards that students voted on after the race’s completion.
- First place: Timmy Rixmann, Levi Slimak, Chris Morgan and Michael Wesner. They earned the “Best Design” award.
- Second place: Annissa Lesmeister, Hannah Linehan, Tessa Balsinger and Matt Merrill. They crafted the mouse-shaped boat.
- Third place: Steven Williams, Tyler Clark, Charlie Erickson and Kyle Yeager. They won the “Titanic” award because the boat went down quickly at the end.
- Fourth place: Reilly Myklebust, Kaija Warner, MaKayla Dehne and Stephanie Peterson. They constructed “The Mario Unicorn” boat. The girls also fashioned special costumes to wear for the event.
- Fifth place: Kevin Kramolis, Blake Heiman and Sam Purfeerst.
- Sixth place: Alex Haskins, Ethan Larson and Evan Schumacher. They built “The Rotten Egg” boat and earned the “Ugly Duckling” award.
- Seventh place: Maria Mishek, Katarina Greenwood, Carlie Christensen and Kayla Myhre. They created “The Boat 2 Victory” boat and earned the “Best Costume/Team Spirit” award.
Graetz was asked if she will hold the race again.
“Each year it is challenging to get everything ready for this, but the custodial staff helps me out each year, along with the phy ed department, and makes this project successful.
“It is always fun to have the parents there too, watching their children and cheering them on.
“I will definitely do the race again. It is stressful but well worth it when you see the kids put in all their hard work and see their efforts pay off when they see their boat float in the pool.”