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Local students take to the lake for science

By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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The fourth annual Folsom High School “Cardboard, Plywood, Whatever Regatta” got students out of the classroom an into Folsom Lake. Four years ago the regatta was created by Folsom High School Science Department Physics Instructor Eric Wright to encourage problem solving and promote teamwork all the while helping the students to learn firsthand how fluids create buoyant forces. “They calculate the buoyancy of each boat, that’s the most important thing,” Wright said. The regatta included 19 student teams from Folsom High School physics classes, two from the school’s Project Lead The Way Engineering Design class, three were alumni teams and two teams came from Rancho Cordova High physics classes. The event was held at Beal’s Point State Park in Granite Bay and included several divisions of awards, including Drag Race Champs, Slalom Race, Titanic Award (best sinking), Huck Finn (boat that can support most students before sinking), Best in Design and Construction, Best in Spirit and Best in Show. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was on hand to check out the students’ handiwork. “We came out to judge the boats’ creativity and craftsmanship,” said Kristy Riley, a hydraulic engineer. “It’s fun to support a local high school science project.” Another judge, Christy Jones, also a hydraulic engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, said it’s wonderful to see the work of growing students. “The creativity that these future engineers can come up with is amazing,” Jones said. “The team atmosphere is great and it’s just a lot of fun.” This is the fourth of five major hands-on projects done in the physics classes. “I believe learning needs to be hear one, see one, do one,” Wright said.” Physics really lends itself to hands-on applications.” The regatta is a takeoff of the “concrete canoe” projects that many college civil engineering programs do every year, he said. “Mr. Wright makes physics worth it,” said Alyssa NeVarez, 17, Folsom High School senior. Wright’s students enjoyed the lesson. Freshman David Neilson, 14, was a part of the only freshman team. “Designing it was the hardest part because we couldn’t decide what to do,” Neilson said. Many parents came out to watch the regatta and show their support. “This was valuable to David,” said Evan Neilson, David’s father. “It was a good bonding time with classmates and it’s a good community event. The hands-on part was very helpful. It all becomes a reality to have it come to life.” Still, after much hard work, lessons were leaned for these future engineers. “We thought the course was going to be bigger than it is, so we built the boat bigger to have stability and endurance to float back and forth,” said senior Seung Shin, 19. “So now we’re going to row really hard.” Senior Marcus Hendricks, 17, also learned an important lesson. “We used 15 rows of duct tape and cardboard … we had a lot of drag on the boat, so we had to row really hard,” Hendricks said. “Our buoyant force was very high because of our large surface area.” Junior Shikha Gupta, 16, enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the project. “We had to meet up and combine our grade which made it more fun rather than having to work alone,” Gupta said.