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Duck Boat Dynasty: Middle schoolers build inventive cardboard crafts

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | February 1, 2024 12:00 AM

A flotilla of cardboard boats, held together with duct tape and ingenuity, churned across the Mission Valley Aquatic Center pool last Wednesday and Thursday, each with its own Polson Middle School rowing crew.

Sixth grader Piper Williamson, a member of Ms. Nichole Greene’s Greene Beans team, explained the challenges of preparing for and competing in the second annual Duck Boat Dynasty Cardboard Boat Races.

“At first we didn’t know how to build a boat,” she said. Sixth graders in her advisory class first decided to use duct tape to hold the cardboard in place “because it won’t let water in and that way it wouldn’t sink as easily.” Their second design element was adding a pointy end “so it would go through the water instead of against it.”

Piper said she worked with Colton on the paddles, and she and Landon comprised the two-person rowing team. All seven kids in her group worked hard on the project.

“We were really good teammates to each other because we supported each other,” she said.

She credits her teacher, Nichole Greene, with getting them started. “I don’t think we could have done it without her,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without anyone else either –  it was a teamwork project and we did a really good job on it.

In fact, their boat won the Team Spirit Award for the sixth graders, while Scott Boen’s Pacific Puffers claimed the fastest finish.

The project “builds community, it brings us all together in our advisory class and helps us strategize how to build a good boat,” Boen said. “It’s a monumental team effort and we won.”

The Pacific Puffers’ craft “took a lot of duct tape and a lot of hours to build. The kids are awesome – they’re the ones who are heroes here.”

Greene said the project was both educational, because it involved physics, engineering and teamwork, and fun. “Every day we do learning,” she said. “Throwing in stuff like this that’s fun makes it a little more worthwhile.”

There were several prizes for each age group: Sunk & Dunked, for the boats that did the most admirable jobs of sinking; the Pirate Pride Award for the most creative boat design; the Team Spirit Award for the most creative costumes and spirited students; and the Fastest Finish Award, for those who clocked the best times. Here are the winning teams:

Fifth Grade: Pirate Pride – Ms. Chelsey Bauer’s Turtles; Team Spirit – Mrs. Mary Comstock's Cove; Sunk & Dunked – Mr. John Brault' Bros; and Fastest Finish – Mr. Paul Venter's Vikings

Sixth Grade: Pirate Pride – Lesley Fansher's Frogs; Team Spirit – Ms. Nichole Greene’s Greene Beans; Sunk & Dunked – Ms. Andrea Okland’s Catch the Wave; and Fastest Finish – Mr. Scott Boen's Pacific Puffers

Seventh Grade: Pirate Pride – Mr. Jami Hanson's Hogs; Team Spirit – Mr. Nicholas Ross’s team; Sunk & Dunked – Mr. Brad Fisher's Pirate Pride; and Fastest Finish – Mr. Abe Ewing's Problem Child

Eighth Grade: Pirate Pride – Mrs. Tami Morrison's Marios; Team Spirit – Ms. Jordan Gurgiolo's Banana Boat; Sunk & Dunked – Ms. Kourtney Zeigler's Tropic Thunder; Fastest Finish – Mrs. Julie Duford's Destroyers

At the close of Wednesday’s competition, as kids splashed around the pool, Boen expressed his enthusiasm for the project. “I hope we continue this tradition every year. It’s so meaningful to kids, the community and staff members.”

    Sixth grader Piper Williamson, a member of Nichole Greene's Greene Beans team, said putting a point on their cardboard boat and lots of teamwork and duct tape were keys to their success. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
 
 
    Polson eighth graders Carson Emerson, Cora Lapotka and Wyatt Moldenhauer wheel toward the finish line in last week's Duck Dynasty races. The threesome piloted Morrison's Marios over the finish line, earning their team the Pirate Pride Award. (Tami Morrison photo)