top of page

The Great PHS Cardboard Boat Race

One of the great traditions here at Poudre High School is the Annual Cardboard Boat Race. Every year, students taking the Physics classes have the unique opportunity to participate in creating and designing their own boats. In the second semester of Physics, students learn about the calculations and science behind the buoyancy of boats, which is then applied to a real world design challenge. The rules are fairly simple. Each team of around four students have two months to construct their boats. The only materials allowed are corrugated cardboard and water soluble glue. This means that boats won't last very long in the water, meaning teams have to be fast. The boats can also be painted, since one of the awards is Showmanship. As far as the race itself, each team is assigned a lane on the water at Terry Lake. The boats have to make it one hundred feet, before turning around and returning to shore. Teams can decide to continue racing or safely return to dry land. Those who decide to continue racing have fifteen minutes to do as many laps as possible. A team of judges, usually PHS teachers, are responsible for counting laps and determining if a boat is "sunk" or not. While this event is obviously meant to be a fun, real life application of physics, students are also competing to determine their final grade. However many feet a boat makes it away from the shore is then transferred their grade, thus putting pressure on students to successfully make it one hundred feet. The day of the race occurs in early May, with three heats happening throughout the day. These heats consist of three to five boats, leaving plenty of open water for teams. 

This year's boat race was this past Saturday, on May 11th. There were a total of thirteen teams in the race, with three different heats. The first heat consisted of five teams, while the second two featured four teams each. The first race had most of its teams make it the distance, with two boats performing exceptionally well. BOAT, piloted by May Westcott and Mia Pulido, completed fifteen laps. WIP, or Work in Progress, which was driven by James McDonough and Miles Mizia, traveled an impressive twenty laps. WIP would end up finishing in first place, with BOAT finishing second in overall scoring. The second heat wound up being pretty unfortunate for most teams, with only a couple of teams making the one hundred foot mark. The final heat featured another four teams. Three of these teams ended up going the distance, with one team especially providing a show. The Ravioli, captained by Jackson Dean and Thomas Damiana, completed ten laps before sinking, which was good enough for third place in the distance rankings. This team, consisting of Jackson Dean, Thomas Damiana, Jade Schroedl, and Austin Eide, received the award for Best Showmanship at the event. This was due to the design of their boat, shaped and painted like a piece of pasta, complete chef outfits of the four members, live cooking, music, and unique approaches to the engineering of their boat. Second place in Showmanship went to Paralus, and third went to WIP.

The Annual Cardboard Boat Race is a definite treat to watch, and certainly encourages underclassmen to consider taking the class. If you'd like more information, talk to Ms. Sydow or Mrs. Bibbey.



Austin Eide is currently a junior at Poudre High School. This will be his first year writing for the Poudre Press. He enjoys playing trumpet in the Pep Band and is also Captain of the Build Team for 159 Alpine Robotics. Austin also loves building with LEGO and making stop-motion movies on YouTube. His blog is dedicated to music, hockey, band, and more!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page