Young engineers set sail on cardboard canoes

By Douglas McCulloch | Jul 20, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Ali Brodsky and Sloan Brodsky, 9, ride in their canoe.

Neptune did not rule the seas when high schooler Paul Jasmin and eighth grader Nicholas Pacine launched the boat into Apponagansett Bay last week.

A hole ripped through the boat’s rear, capsizing it with the added pressure. The boat was made of cardboard, however, so the scenario wasn’t entirely unexpected.

As part of Dartmouth Public Schools’ new Summer Adventures in Learning program, young engineers were tasked with designing, building, and testing a canoe built strictly with cardboard, packing tape, and glue.

Jasmin and Pacine designed the boat themselves, instead of drawing from blueprints available online. Instructor Sam Brodsky provided the two, four-by-eight-foot sheets of cardboard, which the team used to create one-foot sides and reinforce the bottom with rolled cardboard.

The two sealed Neptune’s fate when they decided to remove a fin from the boat’s bottom during the construction process. They then seamed the hole with tape and reinforced cardboard.

“It was a very simple design, and while it worked early on, the back ripped open,” Jasmin said.

Juniors Aidan Doyon and Nick Carnes managed to keep their cardboard canoe afloat the longest, allowing them to make it nearly across the bay before Doyon realized his boat was about to capsize.

“The left side wasn’t able to hold the water, and the back left tape broke so water flowed in,” he explained.

The team had built a flat bottom with aerodynamic features, like a rounded front to help it cut through the water. However, Doyon sat too close to the back of the boat, which raised the front end out of the water. The pair, who are also on the Dartmouth High robotics team, agreed that they’d look into better ways to build their boat next time around.

“It’s a lot of problem solving and trial and error,” said Brodsky, impressed with the designs his students came up with. “It’s a great engineering program, and I hope to do it again in the future.”

Sam Brodsky was ready in a kayak after one canoe failed. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Canoes line up at the starting line. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
High school junior Paul Jasmin and eighth grader Nicholas Pacine in front of their boat. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Aidan Doyon and Nick Carnes ended up staying in the water the longest. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Sloan Brodsky, 9, with Ali Brodsky before launching their canoe. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.