Cardboard Boat Regatta: Physics Come to Life

On Friday, April 7, Historic Anaheim Campus students gathered for the grand finale of their spirit week, the Boat Parade and Regatta. The event split our junior high students into teams to build cardboard and tape boats that would face the ultimate test: the campus swimming pool.

The festivities began behind the campus library where the teams (grouped by their homeroom teachers) gathered, making last minute fixes to their boats and enjoying friendly banter about which team would win the challenge.

Team Hallack’s (dressed all in pink) and Team Debreczeni’s (dressed all in red) students had similar answers when asked what their strategy was to win the boat regatta competition.

“We already won!” said one student from Team Debreczeni, while Team Hallack’s students had a more creative strategy, “Beat them all, crush them all.”

After thoroughly hyping themselves up, the teams gathered to present a boat parade to the preschool students on campus who were awaiting them. The teams were met with cheers as they passed by their younger peers, many of them wearing rabbit ears in honor of the approaching holiday. The boat parade snaked through the campus, each team proudly carrying their boats and hollering their team’s name until they reached their destination, the pool.

There, they were met by the campus’ elementary students who were waiting eagerly for the boat regatta to start to see whose boats would float and whose would sink. The boat regatta competition was run by a point system. First, the teams received points for decorating their boats, which was decided by their observing younger schoolmates on a very strict judging basis.

“I voted for red [Team Debreczeni] because it’s cool,” said 3rd grader, Daniel C.

Fellow 3rd grader, Constantine C. had a bit more complex reasoning, “I voted for blue [Team Riley] because there’s a guy on that team who volunteered to be vegan.”

His surrounding friends nodded in agreement that this was indeed a very good reason to vote for Team Riley. Perhaps word got around about the vegan teammate because Team Riley won the votes of the younger students, winning the decoration portion of the competition and 50 points. Though an impressive amount of points, the majority would be won based on how many tasks could be completed in the teams’ six minutes in the pool.

Launching the boat with one person and no paddle (also cardboard and tape) would earn 50 points, each collected ball (previously placed in the pool) by the student in the boat gained it’s marked point value between 10-25, after every ball was picked up another student could join the boat with a cardboard paddle for 20 points a person, and after four people got in the cardboard boat without it sinking a 50 point ball at the bottom of the pool was up for grabs.

Unfortunately, the rules didn’t quite work out after the first team’s attempt in which one student couldn’t row the boat by himself without a paddle and spent the full six minutes paddling in place with his arms trying to get back to his teammates. After that, each boat began with four people and a paddle in it and the competition became a rush just to gather as many plastic balls as possible before sinking. Some of the boats lasted a while, while others collapsed after moments.

It was an exciting morning for all of the students as each team entered the pool. Laughter and hollering could be heard from up and down the street. In the end, the International Student Team earned the most points winning the boat competition and Team Ickes won Spirit Week Champion. It was a wonderful ending to the students’ last day before spring break – which may have added to the students’ jubilance throughout the competition.

The students weren’t the only cheerful ones on campus. The teachers were happy for a job well done on one of their larger events of the year.

“The teachers look forward to this event every year because we get to see the students’ determination and talent displayed for their fellow students and the Historic Anaheim Campus,” said social studies teacher Alena Hallack.


The competition is not only fun, but teaches students to think critically and gain first-hand knowledge of physics principles like buoyancy and density. Students work hard throughout the year toward the annual contest and this year’s students were no different.

“The games were great this year and the kids really showed their hard work and spirit,” Hallack said. “This event is something they have worked toward all year and they truly brought their A-game to the competition.”

Elementary students observing the boat regatta have the advantage to think about their own boat design years in advance. Jaaniya D. (3rd grade) has it all worked out.

When asked if she’s thought about her future boat design she replied, “I want my boat to be yellow.”

She has a few years to make it so.

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