St. Rita Honors Physics Class Holds Regatta

The Honors Physics class spent more than three weeks planning for the event. They began by learning about Archimedes’ Principle and how an objects density, weight, and how much fluid it displaces all relate to if an object sinks or floats. They did practice problems, a demonstration in which we had to manipulate an object to make it sink and float (without adding water to the object), and followed that all up with a lab on Archimedes’ Principle.

From there students made scaled prototypes out of index cards and packing tape and tested how much mass (pennies) their boat could hold before sinking. After analyzing the test, some had to redesign and others were ready to move on to sketches and calculations. Before they could build their life size boat, they had to complete multiple 3D sketches to scale, pages of calculations such as the cost and weight of their boat, surface area, volume of boat, and the waterline to ensure their boat would not sink, as well as analysis questions.

Once approved, they were able to begin constructing their boat. They had constraints to work within such as a length and width, the use of only corrugated cardboard and duct or packing tape, using no more than 2 inches of tape on either side of a seam, thickness of cardboard not exceeding one inch and no trapping of air between layers, etc. There were 26 constraints they had to work within! The day before the race they had to complete a technical inspection and any rules they did not adhere to had to be fixed before the race. Grading on race day pertained to things like safety, how much of the race they were able to complete and average speed. Students were also to create a theme for their boat and crew. Students worked in groups of 4-5 and two members were in each boat. There were nine boats total.

The Awards were:

The Titanic Award: Flying Dutchman

People’s Choice (for best theme): Hawaiian 

Innovator (for out-of-the-box thinking in construction): The Bobcat

1st place (for speed): the Quinjet

2nd place: Racecar

3rd place: Noah’s Ark