Students face that ‘sinking’ feeling

“Sail, sink or swim” could have been the motto of the cardboard boat races last Thursday at Pither’s Point Park.
A project started by Cathy Brindle and her grade seven/eight French Immersion class at St. Francis School here, student Darren Jeffery said it was “probably the best field trip we’ve had all year.”
Brindle first learned of the cardboard boat races while in Sarnia last summer. “It looked like a great idea,” she enthused.
Also providing a good opportunity for the class of 27 to learn about teamwork, as well as the basics of boat-building, Brindle said the project was well worth the 10-15 hours of class time they spent on it.
First splitting up into teams of five or six, students constructed a total of five crafts to test and–assuming they survived the testing–race against one another. The boats had to be made from cardboard, and be able to seat up to two people. Some students used styrofoam or shrink wrap to fortify their boats.
The eager class arrived at Pither’s Point under grey skies but everyone seemed hopeful the weather would not stop them from getting their crafts onto the water.
First, the vessels were tested to see if they could float. All of them passed the test but not without incident–like the “Titanic,” Jeffery’s “Garbage Barge” capsized during its “maiden voyage.”
Next was the one person per boat time trials. Racing from the shore to a designated point on the government dock, the students paddled wildly to record the best time while classmates cheered from the sidelines.
The day almost ended on a wet note after a sudden downpour brought everything to a halt. “I think we’re calling it a day,” Brindle announced from beneath her umbrella.
But the rain stopped as quickly as it came, and the races went on. Smiling and soaking wet, two people paddled each boat this time. In the end, the “Mach 5” came in with the best time.
“I though it was wonderful,” enthused Mary Lynne Bondett, one of the several parents one hand. “It showed a great deal of creativity.
“I’m glad to see teachers like Cathy Brindle in the system, motivating the kids to do things like this,” she added.
And what happened to the boats?
“We’re going to have to dump them,” Brindle smiled. “I’m not going to carry those things back.”
But she plans to undertake the same project with next year’s class.