Learning Ahoy
OHS Students Take Learning to the Pool
Posted on 05/25/2023
Two Olympic High School students paddle their cardboard boat in the pool with volunteers watchingWith just cardboard and duct tape, could you build a boat that floats? 

That’s precisely what Olympic High students in Richard Gifford’s manufacturing technology classes set out to do. They put their marine manufacturing skills to the test at the Olympic High pool. Their goal was to not only construct cardboard boats that could float, but were equipped to race other teams as well.

Before cutting cardboard or ripping duct tape, students were required to make buoyancy and weight calculations to their designs to ensure their boats would float with two passengers aboard. Next, it was time to build. 

“It’s a fun way to get them out in the shop and see what it’s like to work with their hands,” Gifford said. 

Navy Partnership

Civilian divers from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility helped students with their voyage across the pool. Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport provided lesson plans and supplies, as well as life vests and oars on float day.

Some boats made several laps across the pool. The winning groups went down and back in under one minute. Others weren’t as fortunate, and they sank – or, in some cases, splashed – right into the pool.

Lessons Learned

Sink or swim, the building process revealed practical lessons. 

“You need time management, for sure. You need to plan everything out,” said Coleman, a junior. 

“We had to be systematic with how we did things, you can’t always go back and fix stuff,” added his teammate Job. “You have to do things piece by piece.”  

Even with a great plan, students need to occasionally change course in order to find success. 

“We learned how to improvise and make improvements on the fly,” said junior Vren. “Not everything goes according to plan.”