All Aboat!

AP Physics 2 class races homemade boats in pool.

Mr. Hennigar’s AP Physics 2 class undertook a difficult assignment: they were to create a boat that would hold their entire body weight in the school pool. To make it even harder, their boats could only be made from three supplies: soda bottles / milk jugs, PVC pipes, and glue/duct tape. The boats were required to withstand at least ten minutes of floating in the pool with the student sitting on top of them. After, the students needed to be able to propel their boat across the width of the pool within three minutes. 

“I actually did this exact project in the fall of 1996 in a pool with the exact same rules for my own physics class with Mr. West Chinworth. I remember even borrowing a friend’s truck to get it to school. I enjoyed it so much then, and I wanted my students to experience that joy too,” said Mr. Hennigar.

Although the assignment may appear to be quite difficult to the average person, these bright students excitedly accepted the challenge.

The first major step was actually creating the boat. The students had to use physics in order to calculate the perfect boat for their weight and the buoyancy of the water. Then, they had to carefully craft the supplies to fit their calculations and requirements.

“I would take four milk jugs and tape them together. I then did that six more times. Finally, I taped these sets of four until I got one giant four by six boat,” said senior Connor Engles. 

“I got all of my milk jugs from Starbucks because they gave them to me for free. Then I got the PVC pipes and duct taped them to the milk jugs so the entire structure was big enough to float,” added junior Carlie Fisher.

Clearly unlike last year, most of the students used milk jugs rather than soda bottles as the main components of their boat. Unfortunately, many of them did face various unexpected challenges when creating their boats.

“Surprisingly, it was incredibly difficult to duct tape the milk jugs. They would constantly move around because of how light they were. I actually had to ask some friends to come over and hold them down while I duct taped them,” said senior Freedom Eiden.

“The site I ordered the milk jugs from did not deliver them with lids, so I had to separately order lids. Unfortunately, those lids didn’t fit on the jugs, so I had to go through and tape each individual one,” explained junior Jai Barath. 

These obstacles didn’t just end there. While most students would traditionally test their boats, many of the Physics students surprisingly did not. 

“I actually did not test my boat before. I really had faith that it would float because I was pretty confident in my calculations and the boat’s overall structure. My only fear is that I might flip over in it because of the lack of balance I have when on it,” remarked Engles.

Regardless, the boats performed exceptionally well. One boat in particular, David McGrogan’s, was the fastest out of all 22 boats with a time of just 22 seconds to get across the pool. Although his boat’s structure was quite similar to his peers, it was another aspect that led him to victory.

“Instead of using the typical half circle paddle design, I cut out the bottom of mine to make it more flat, so it would push through the water better. I think that made me a lot faster to be honest,” explained junior David McGrogan. 

The AP Physics students clearly displayed their immense creativity and intelligence through all of their unique boat designs!