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Students learn physics principles in cardboard boat challenge

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Polson Middle School students paddled boats they made out of cardboard, glue and tape across the pool at the Mission Valley Aquatics Center last week during the annual Duck Boat Dynasty Challenge.

Using only duct tape, cardboard, Elmer’s glue, permanent markers and spray paint, PMS students put into practice principles they learned about buoyancy, density, geometry and more to create their boats. They then chose two people to paddle them the length of the pool and back during grade-level competitions Jan. 24 and 25. 

PMS teacher Paul Venters, whose class won the fifth-grade contest, said his students put an “amazing amount of work in” on their boat. He described the challenge as both fun and educational, allowing students to learn cross curricular content in the process. His class’s boat finished the race in 1 minute, 48 seconds. One other fifth grade boat made it the length of the pool and back — the others didn’t. “There was some ‘spectacular sinking,’” Venters commented adding that one fifth grader held a valiant salute as her boat went down underneath her.

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