The boat Sea Señora, manned by Grosse Pointe North High School students Lexi Guarini and Ally Leone, takes on too much water while trying to make it across the school’s pool and back March 8.

The boat Sea Señora, manned by Grosse Pointe North High School students Lexi Guarini and Ally Leone, takes on too much water while trying to make it across the school’s pool and back March 8.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Students set sail on a cardboard cruise

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 12, 2019

 Lavell White, of the Black Thunder team, says a prayer prior to takeoff. The boat, however, sank along with White and Justin Baldridge.

Lavell White, of the Black Thunder team, says a prayer prior to takeoff. The boat, however, sank along with White and Justin Baldridge.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Every year, Don Pata and Jaime Hainer’s physics classes at Grosse Pointe North High School study a buoyancy unit that ends with students participating in an annual boat race.

The students are broken down into small groups in which they make boats using just two items: cardboard and duct tape. The students also use markers and paint to decorate their homemade vessels.

The goal is to create a watercraft that will hold the weight of two students as they cruise their way from one end of the North pool to the other and back without sinking. The students are timed and use oars to paddle through the water as other students and family members cheer them on.

During school hours March 8, the students participated in the annual regatta. There were nine heats with a total of 33 boats that raced. Each boat only raced once, with some of them sinking and others making it to one side of the pool and back. Some boats sank before the students even left the “dock,” while others became waterlogged during the journey.

The boats included the Flying Dutchman, David Buoy, Who’s Your Daddy, Scuba Steve, Below C Level, the Cod Father, Aquaholics and Sea Señora. The nautical event included physics, honors physics and Advanced Placement physics classes.

Seniors Jessica Gieseking, Michaela Cosgrove and Sara Schaden and juniors Sofia Ketels and MeKelle Pace were among the team members who worked on their boat, Drip Too Hard. The boat, unfortunately, didn’t stay afloat.

“One paddle and we tipped,” Cosgrove said. “We weren’t balanced in it.”

“The water was warm, so it was OK,” Ketels said.

“It was nerve-wracking, but it was fun,” Pace said. “Everyone was coming together.”

When creating their boat, Gieseking said, the team had to think about to where the water would rise when it was placed into the water. She added that Drip Too Hard — named after the Lil Baby song — weighed 13 pounds. It took the team about five hours to make its creation.

According to the regatta program brochure, the first-ever cardboard boat regatta was in 1974 at Southern Illinois University when art and design professor Richard Archer came up with the idea of designing and racing a cardboard boat as a final exam for his freshman design classes.

Since then, boat regattas have become annual events at many schools, lakes and campgrounds nationwide.

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