Watercraft project teaches science and life lessons

Westside Christian High School offered its students a hands-on lesson on buoyancy, aerodynamics and the thrill of a high-speed chase.

Advanced placement physics students designed and built mini-electric speed boats, adhering to teacher Roger Allcroft’s size limits and materials specifications.

“To help them visualize what they were attempting to do, I built five different boat designs of my own for them to look at,” Allcroft said.

To construct a course, he fashioned parallel boat channels from rain gutters. Students switched on their vessels and watched them zip down the course late last month.

The finalists in the competition were junior Kayla Brase and a team of juniors, Elexus Graves and Grace Klinkhammer. The Graves and Klinkhammer boat sped to the finish first in two out of three runs, winning the first Electric Speedboat Championship.

“Events like this really show the strong sense of community here at Westside,” Graves said. “We helped one another throughout the process, shared a meal prior to the event and cheered one another on.”

Students aren’t done yet. They still need to submit an essay on the successes and failures surrounding their watercraft projects. Allcroft said learning that plans and reality don’t always match is a good message for students.

“I want my students to use failures as opportunities for growth in their learning and in life,” Allcroft SUBMITTED PHOTO: DEB GIVENS - Westside Christian High School physics teacher Roger Allcroft tasked students with designing and creating a mini-speed boat, a competition culminating in a race last month. Junior Kayla Brase, left, won second place; junior Grace Klinkhammer, right, landed first place with her teammate Elexus Graves, not pictured. Supporters looked on.

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