Poudre High School physics students navigate Terry Lake during Cardboard Regatta

More than a few students in Kristy Bibbey’s general physics class at Poudre High School won’t be taking the final exam this year. They earned their way out of it working in small teams to build a boat made entirely of cardboard and white glue and navigating it 100 feet in open water across Terry Lake in north Fort Collins. The competition then went on to determine which team could complete the most 100-foot laps in 15 minutes. Shortly after the race, Bibbey figured that 15 of the 22 boats entered met the requirements for skipping the final.

A new record was set this year when the team of Liam Stirling and Adam D’Antonio piloted “The Patriot” through 32.75 laps in the allotted time, topping the prior record of 28 laps. They had two additional oarsmen to speed them along. Their craft was fully intact at the end of the event.

Stirling and D’Antonio spent five weeks working on their project and used 16 gallons of glue (kindly donated by Lowes along with a gallon of paint). Cardboard was scrounged from construction site dumpsters. The boys built a pontoon on each side of the boat with an internal open space to create buoyancy and used multiple layers of cardboard for strength. “At the thinnest point there are ten layers of cardboard,” the Stirling said. The craft weighed 200 pounds.

Other boats ranged from hardly more than a cardboard box to some that showed evidence of a good bit of planning and effort. They carried names like “We’re Not Dead Yet,” “Just Keep Paddlin’,” and “Star Wars.”

The Cardboard Regatta, created 22 years ago by then physics teacher Tim Lenczycki, has become a springtime tradition at the school. Bibbey took over the event 10 years ago when Lenczycki switched to chemistry and she began teaching physics.

“Students work in small teams to build boats from cardboard and white glue using buoyancy principles to calculate a water line,” Bibbey said. She explained that the first year of the race it was held at the Fort Collins Country Club pool and the glue dissolved in the water and destroyed the pool filters. The lake works better.

Since then Terry Shores Homeowners Association has hosted the event and a wonderful friendship has grown up between them and the PHS community. The week before the boat race, PHS students help the neighborhood with their spring clean-up as a way to “pay-it-forward” for the use of the property.

Behind “The Patriot”, “Crocodile Hunters” piloted by Emma Mead and Rebecca Harrington completed 27 laps and “99 Problems” built and piloted by Dino Sheng, Jack Kahl, Andy Reese and Logan Wilson made 24 laps.

Fourth place went to “Lewis” built by Sammi Jones, Yuqi Bian, Jessica Ward and Howard Wang and fifth place went to “C(sea)MAS” built by Emily Kenney, Leigh Francia and Alisa Peterson.

Judges selected award winners for showmanship: First place “Patriot,” c, “C(sea)MAS,” third, 99 Problems,” fourth, “The Anchor” by Olivia and Henry Raymond and Quinn Gawronski and fifth place, “Les Princesse” built by Kaidee Akullo, Asmita Jha and Karla Martinez.

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