Physics Ahoy!

AP Physics 2 students build boats to use in the pool.


Saanya Agarwal, Co-Editor in Chief

During the month of October, the CHS AP Physics students put in tons of time and effort into a competitive project they were assigned. The project was to create a boat made out of only three supplies: soda bottles, PVC pipes, and glue/duct tape. Once the boats were made, the students were to sit in them and float for at least ten minutes. Then, they were required to row their boats across the width of the pool in under three minutes. Although the assignment appeared incredibly difficult, the AP Physics 2 students eagerly took on the challenge. 

The first major obstacle was creating the boat. The students worked tirelessly to fabricate a stable structure that not only could float, but could also carry their weight. Each student had vastly different designs.

“We all had to calculate how buoyant our boats were. After I did that, I used about 50 2-liter pop bottles and duct taped them together. Then, I also used adhesives to make sure the entire boat stayed together as well,” said junior Jonathon Mcclure.

“I knew going in that I wanted to have a raft shape as a central structure because it’s the most efficient way to concentrate empty bottles, thus providing force. After researching, I did eight rows of ten vertical pop bottles with spots of glue between each one,” added junior Riley Hawksworth.

However, new hindrances arose during the building process. Many parts would not stick together or the overall structure wasn’t correct to the specific measurements and calculations necessary.

“A challenge I faced when making my boat was how to actually connect the milk jugs to the frame, which I solved by interlocking the milk jugs with a pvc pipe that ran through the handles of the milk jugs,” said junior Daniel Streeter.

“The biggest challenge for me was measuring all of the parts out and then cutting them to the exact measurements. One wrong measurement could completely alter the boat’s outcomes,” added senior Elijah Arulandu.

Finally, after taking multiple weeks to build the boats, some students took the extra step and decided to test their newly built creations in order to ensure success on the big day. 

“I actually tested my boat in my hot tub. It barely fit, but luckily I managed to get it in and make sure it would float,” said junior Ian Condes.

When the day arrived to showcase their boats, the assistant principals and other CHS staff members lined against the edges of the pool, eager to witness the students’ creativity. Many would assume that so many important people would make the students nervous. However, this was not the case as their boats did a fine job combing through the pool water.

“At first, I was nervous that I would sink to the bottom when I got on the boat. It did instantly tilt a bit, but luckily the boat managed to stay mostly afloat. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pick up an entire boat from the bottom of the pool,” exclaimed Mcclure. 

“I wasn’t very nervous at all, for I had confidence in my boat. I knew it was stable and built well, so nothing bad would happen,” added Arulandu.

To end the event, Mr. Hennigar instructed the students to race each other to see who had the fastest boat. Daniel Streeter had won the race with an immense amount of time remaining in comparison to his competitors.

When asked how it felt to win the race, Streeter exclaimed, “It was really satisfying to win, especially after the hours I spent designing and building my boat.” 

Speed and stability were crucial aspects in determining the winner of the race. By maintaining a sense of steadiness, students were able to row their boats at a quicker pace without allowing water to seep inside. Streeter continues to explain how he ensured this speed and stability within his boat.

“A design element I incorporated in preliminary designs of my boat were out-riggers. I ended up not needing to use them because the frame of the boat was more than adequate to sustain my weight with good balance.”

Overall, the AP Physics 2 students evidently demonstrated their intelligence and creativity through their unique and innovative designs. Make sure to check out their awesome boats in the pictures!