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Gray Stone students test canoe designs for physics class

Gray Stone Day School High School students recently competed in cardboard canoe races, the culmination of Jeff Brown’s STEM class’ first semester engineering design challenge.

The students researched the physics behind the challenge and earlier in the semester built Rube Goldberg machines to practice their engineering and construction skills.

For the canoe challenge, teams built and floated prototypes of their canoe design before they tackled the full scale final project build and hit the water.

For the challenge, groups of three and four students were to use only cardboard, duct tape and plastic trash bags to construct a canoe that would hold two people and would be able to complete 50 yards (two laps) in the Pfeiffer University pool as quickly as possible. The additional building and use of oars was optional.

Out of 22 boats, six completed the full challenge and four boats got most of the way out and back across the pool. Some boats went down partway across the pool and others sank at the start.