FOLSOM, Calif. -- Volunteer judges from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District judged boats built by high school students from more than 20 physics and engineering classes at Folsom and Rancho Cordova High Schools at Folsom High School's Fourth Annual Cardboard/Plywood/Whatever Regatta at Beal's Point State Park here April 1.

Hydraulic engineer Christy Jones and civil engineer Kristy Riley judged the students' homemade boats against structural design criteria. The students then tested the boats in sprint races. Awards were given for best design and construction, drag race, slalom course, greatest buoyant force and best sinking competitions.

The competition is modeled after the concrete canoe projects held by many college civil engineering programs said Eric Wright, physics instructor at Folsom High School and regatta organizer. "I believe learning needs to be hear one, see one, do one. Physics really lends itself to hands-on application," Wright said.

Students said that they enjoyed designing something on their own without instructions or directions. "It was so exciting for students to see something start as a vision and become a reality," Wright said. "This project also encouraged problem solving and promoted teamwork, which is so important to the development of these students into young adults."

Wright said Corps volunteers were an important part of the educational experience. "These students are aspiring to careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and exposure to adults in these fields is very important, to see that there are real people in these fields. It is great to see these experts out here watching the students' hard work."

"It gives me hope to see these students put so much care, creativity and effort into building these boats," Sacramento District's Christy Jones said. "It's inspiring to see tomorrow's budding engineers at work."

Corps judges have been requested and plan to attend another physics competition at the school, the FHS Engineering Challenge, May 17.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16