Windsor

Out of the box learning: Cardboard boat races encourage careers in trades

Teams from seven secondary schools across the region competed in the Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races at the Kinsmen Recreation Complex pool. Each team had two hours to turn two sheets of corrugated cardboard and a few rolls of tape into a vessel capable of staying afloat.

Students had two hours to turn cardboard and a few rolls of tape into a seaworthy vessel

Windsor-Essex high school students made boats out of cardboard and gained practical skills along the way. 1:09

Grade 12 student Karla Najem had been working with her three teammates for three weeks after school on plans to build a boat. A very special kind of boat.

"I just hope we do okay," said the Catholic Central High School student as she prepped. "I just hope it lasts."

Najem is part of a group of local high school students who dove into learning Tuesday afternoon — in some cases literally.

Teams from seven secondary schools across Windsor-Essex competed in the Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races at the Kinsmen Recreation Complex pool.

"The purpose of the activity is to get kids thinking about viable career options," said competition coordinator Natasha Olvier. "They'll be doing some hands-on learning incorporating designed skills, communication and working as a team."

Each team had two hours to turn two sheets of corrugated cardboard and a few rolls of duct tape into a vessel capable of staying afloat.

"In our boat we basically just made it flat-based so water would hold it up and we added a couple floaters," said Najem. "The boat is kind of tipped in the front so it cuts through the water."

Grade 12 Essex District High School student Cole Trembley and his teammates had a similar approach 

"We put a lot of tape on the outside and the bottom so the water wouldn't seep through it," he said. 

The teams of four began working on prototypes and plans for their boats long before the races, which ran from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

"When they go home today they'll definitely be thinking about ways they can build a boat better but also about different careers," Oliver explained.

Creativity was on display before the boats hit the water with a Viking-themed vessel, a pontoon boat and even a craft covered in Christmas decorations created by Najem's team.

"We thought that everyone has Christmas decorations at home so we all brought them in," she said.

The purpose of the event was to introduce students to skills including planning, design, teamwork and workplace safety that they'll need in future careers.

"I thought it'd be interesting because I'm into hands on things," said Trembley.

The race left many of the cardboard vessels in soppy piles, but some of the students had success.

A team puts the finishing touches on their vessel ahead of the Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races at the Kinsmen Recreation Complex pool Tuesday afternoon. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"It was pretty fun," said Najem adding that she got to know some of her classmates a bit better.

Trembley's team won first place in their heat.

"I learned a lot," he said. "It's great to learn how to do things and be out there in."

Winners of each race will have a chance to take on other young people from across Ontario at the provincial championships in Waterloo on March 7.