Challenge:  Build a boat made out of recycled plastic bottles that can be raced by one or two of your team members the length of the pool at Chadwick using only hands or legs  or home-made paddles for locomotion.


Event Details:

Boat Turn-in Deadline:         Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Boat Race:                         Tuesday, June 7 (1:00 - 2:30 pm)


Teams:                                 2 to 4 people per team


Awards to be Presented:        

*1st – 2nd – 3rd place for Fastest Boat,
*Junk Yard Award,
*Best Dressed Team Award,
*Titanic Award,
*Craziest Design Award,

*Theme Award

* Best Overall Design Award

Creative problem-solving is the name of the game. Whether you get your creative insights from methodical effort or from wide-ranging trail-and-error, building a plastic bottle boat can be -- no, make that, will be -- both fun and challenging.

Start with a design idea, a vision of what you want your creation to look like. But consider this first -- it doesn't have to be a boat at all! It can be any design you like or want to try out. Create a drawing or two BEFORE you start construction.

How about a little science?   A cubic foot of water weighs about 62 pounds. That means that a 120-pound person will float in a boat that is 1 foot by 1 foot by 2 feet -- of course, that could be a bit uncomfortable!  Here is another bit of science – an empty 1 liter plastic bottle will displace 2.2046 lbs of water. Keep in mind that the higher you want to float in water, the more buoyancy you will need. Consider the ping pong ball. Its density is 0.06 g/mL so it will float high in water. A lime, however, at 0.98 g/mL will float quite low in water since the density of water is 1.0 g/mL.  (Hint:  Divide the total weight of your boat + the weight of the passenger(s) by 2.2. The answer is the approximate number of empty liter bottles you will need to float level with the surface of the pool. For more floatation, add more bottles!)

Items to think about:

  • A flat bottom boat is recommended. A V-shaped bottom is likely to tip over unless the V is very gentle.
  • The lowest center of gravity is the most stable; kneeling or standing may cause you to tip over.
  • Length Requirement:  Max length is 9 feet (NOTE: Must be 9’ or under so it will stand up against the outside walls of the classroom); minimum is 4 feet.
  • For height, allow about 18 inches for you to sit and paddle effectively without the edge of your boat blocking your arms.
  • For width, figure about 18 inches for a kayak or surfboard, about 23-24 inches for a canoe. Figure about 30 inches maximum for 1 person.
  • OK Materials:  1) Duct tape; 2) Silicon glue;  3) Small diameter PVC pipe;  4) Nylon cord; 5) Plastic bottles
  • No “doors” allowed. Yes, in 2012 a team raced a real “door!” This option is now forbidden.
  • Do not use paint. No motors of any kind. Boat must be human-powered.
  • Forget about “glue guns” because that type of glue melts on hot days.

Some of the fun is in the discovery. So that's it for tips. Now go for it!