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Junior Cassandra Lemere goes down with her ship while paddling for team Olympus on Monday during the West Fargo High Physics class second annual Cardboard Boat Regatta at L.E. Berger Pool. David Samson / Forum News Service

Physics students set sail at Berger Pool

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For the second consecutive year, the physics students of West Fargo High School took to L.E. Berger Pool for the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on Monday.


More than 200 students from Michelle Strand’s and Adam Christensen’s physics classes made up 44 teams and spent over five weeks constructing boasts out of cardboard and duct tape.

“We focused on the Archimedes Principle and density,” Strand said. “This was their final project and how they were assessed. We didn’t take a test. They had to build a boat and show me that it should be able to float.”  

Strand was interested in hosting the regatta again after a successful first outing last spring, but was concerned about the space in the pool, as they were relatively full with 25 boats last year.

“The first question I got at the start of the year, before everyone was even through the door, was ‘When are we doing the boats?’ Strand said. “I knew we had to make it work.”

To accommodate for the additional people, the teams made one-man vessels and raced the width of the pool instead of the length.

While several of the boats were able to make the trip across the pool, many of them, like Team Merica’s boat, the S.S. Merica, sank before reaching shore, but the teams still learned a lesson in physics.

“We made it halfway, and our sides started caving in, once that happened, all of the seams started to buckle,” Weston Dobler said. “Surface area means a lot here. It took a while to make, but we had fun with it.”

First place went to the “Jungle Judies” team: Hannah Reis, Alexa Olson, Bailey Hurley and Cynthia Vistad. Other prizes were awarded for the best-dressed team, the most creative boat design and the “most spectacular sinking.”

The race will likely return.

“It will happen again next year,” Strand said. “I think it is fantastic for the students to use their physics knowledge to build something real that they actually have to use and is useful.”