Physics Floats Your Boat


Makayla Thomas

Ian Jones and Seth Villanueva paddle across the SJHHS pool in their hand made boat hoping to finish with the best time for the five extra credit points.

Cardboard and water are not two terms ordinarily used side by side, but in the final Physics project this year at SJHHS they went hand in hand. On June 3rd, Mr. Trumble’s physics class  tested the very first physics boat project where students had to sail across the pool in a cardboard boat capable of keeping them afloat.

The design of the vessel must apply the scientific principles of stability, thrust, center of flotation, as well as Archimede’s principle. This principle states that an object placed in water will be forced up due to the displacement of the water, shown by the boat in the water. Beroulli’s Principle is also used, meaning the speed of an object on water decreases the pressure.  These are lessons physics students have learned throughout the course and are now able to apply to an exciting hands on project.

To construct the boat, students can only use cardboard, duct tape,  and water proof paint, but can not use anything that can enhance the structure or performance of the boat such as construction paper or plastic.

Owen Grulkowsi shared his plans for his boat design, which is a six foot long rectangular design with a pointed nose that was built to maximize structural support, sturdiness, and keep the water out. Grulkowsi’s boat can support both his partner and himself and they will either make paddles or use their hands to propel their vessel forward. The boat with the best time will be rewarded five extra credit points and bragging rights. “We just went for it and hopefully it will work out good” said Grulkowsi.

Haley Blatman is in the process of designing a boat with her partner that is similar to Grulkowsi’s as it is also six feet long, but has more of a long, narrow shape. “Cardboard, tape, and paint. We’re allowed to use different types of paint so long as it’s not toxic or won’t float off into the pool” said Blatman.

Though in past years of  experiments at Canyon High School, students have “dressed up in costumes relating to boats or even opposing schools or sports teams” said Trumble. Also at Canyon High School, after a 35 year old physic boat tradition they had over 500 people on the pool deck watching the action take place. Trumble claimed this year’s project is a test run and could possibly turn out to be something bigger in years to come.

Students are required to build their boat at home, and then the day the project takes place they will sit in their boat and then will be timed as they paddle their boat across the pool-if their boat even makes it! “It’s hard because not everyone can contribute, but so far I am confident in my project,” states Christina Farias.