Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 18, 2013

Pirate science, physics students set sail

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Several Greensburg High School students found their “sea legs” in a special project at the school’s pool Friday afternoon.

Students in Brent Veach’s earth science class joined Brian Kuchaes’ physics group for a boat race composed of vessels handcrafted by the students themselves.

Some crafts proved seaworthy enough to be the envy of Jack Sparrow; others were destined for Davy Jones’ Locker seconds after shoving off. But no matter the result, students found themselves cheered on by their fellow Pirates as they attempted to navigate the expanse of the C.W. Childress pool — twice for those who were successful — in boats fashioned out of little more than cardboard and duct tape.

Some of the more creative “ships” were decked out with steering wheels or cardboard advertisements. Other students, more concerned with making certain their boat would remain afloat, used makeshift rows or paddled with their arms to make it from one end of the pool to the other and back.

The experiment, which students had been working on for several weeks, aimed to teach the ship designers how atmospheric conditions can affect both human-constructed and naturally occurring processes (in addition to other physical and chemical laws) while students also saw firsthand how their calculations would fare in a “real world” setting.

Divided into small groups, not all students chose to pilot their Pirate ships. Some stood by and watched as their fellow “crew” members set sail successfully while others saw their ships split into soggy pieces before given the chance to be properly commandeered. The most successful sailors competed in a second race, with the overall winners earning a pizza lunch. Those whose ships disintegrated upon entry into the water ferried their creations (or what was left of them) across the pool by grabbing hold of what remained and swimming the distance.

Students were also graded on the project, with a slight emphasis placed on the ship’s endurance. Other points were earned by students based on actually presenting a boat for the project, creativity, design and depth prediction. For the last item on that list, students earned up to 20 points by correctly judging how low in the water their boat would sit.

Veach and Kuchaes, both new to Greensburg Community High School this year, have conducted similar experiments at their previous school, but Friday marked the first time they had organized the project in Greensburg.

For Veach’s class, Friday’s boat race was the first grade his students will receive in this nine-week period.



Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056