OSAGE | For the third year, on Thursday, Jan. 25, the Cedar River Complex, in Osage, hosted its annual Cardboard Boat Races.

Required to use Archimedes’ Principle regarding upward buoyant forces opposing the weight of the object immersed in the fluid, the students, some sophomores, some juniors, and some seniors, applied the lessons taught in their physical science or physics classes in order to design and construct their boats.

This year, students from six high schools – St. Ansgar, Osage, Riceville, North Butler, Northwood-Kensett and Rockford – participated in the races with 22 boats being constructed and raced over the course of the day.

Students gathered in the morning at a welcome assembly, to discuss the rules and meet with business representatives. By 8:45 a.m., boat construction began, with a flurry of activity that had students cutting, taping, measuring, folding and rethinking plans and ideas as they checked over their plans and the math involved.

For some teachers, past trips to the boat races allowed them to give their students some idea of what to expect, while others came to the races as first timers, unsure of what to expect.

“We wanted to make ours a little like a kayak, narrow, small, so it can move quicker,” said Thor Maakestad, a student in Mrs. Stacy Staudt’s physical science class. Maakestad’s group constructed the boat named Paddy wagon, a SpongeBob themed boat, which won its races in both the first- and second-round. While the boat didn’t make the finals, due to the time of completion, the plans students used to build their boat clearly paid off.

Some schools brought fans and power tools, the fans to help dry off the boats in between rounds, though in many cases, there was no drying or saving the sunken vessels. Boats capsized, others took on water, while some simply fell apart, leaving their crew stranded in the middle of the pool. Some boats, such as The Sinker, perhaps tempted fate, or at the very least, created a self-fulfilling prophesy, when it promptly sank in the first round.

Several teams responded to the question of what type of boat they were building with an optimistic response of “one that hopefully floats,” though in two of the first-round races, neither boat would finish.

“We have to make sure the sides aren’t too tall,” said Osage sophomore, Erica Nasstrom. “We have to use Archimedes principle and find the volume. Our plan is for our boat to be small, but big enough to hold us. We want to be able to go really fast.”

Speed, as many teams discovered, was key in their boat’s ability to survive to the next round. Boats that took on too much water or spent too much time in the water, quickly became soggy and fell apart. Teams worked fast to get in their boats and get to the other end, where teammates waited to yank the vessels from the water in the hopes they could be dried before the next race.

In the end, three vessels remained: Osage’s The Sea-Man, St. Ansgar’s Cornfed, and Osage’s Aquaholics. In a rematch from the first round, in which the Aquaholics took on The Sea-man, the Sea-man once again prevailed, surviving the race with crew Joe Sullivan and Elijah Bloom on board for the victory.

“YEAH!” shouted Sullivan, as they reached the end of the pool, boat still intact. Smiling and posing, the Osage team surrounded its vessel, on the sidelines.

In the judging, which is determined by creativity, design, theme, costumes and physics, the Osage boat, The Butt, took first place, while Osage’s Paddy wagon taking second.

The day proved to be a very good one for the Green Devil’s cardboard racers.

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