By Elyana Schosek
Technology classes in high school aren’t the same as they used to be. Most people think of tech classes in school as woodworking and basic measuring skills. But today, many of these classes revolve around technology and the application of technology to building different objects.
This is somewhat true for one of the biggest projects done in Mr. Shelley’s Tech I class. In the weeks leading up to the break for the holidays, the students are presented with a unique and interesting assignment. They are to create a boat with very limited supplies which include: cardboard, zip ties, duct tape and some plastic.
The Friday before break begins is the designated day for the big race. Participants are always putting finishing touches and modifications on their boats before they go in the water. The teams are matched up for the competition which involves being able to effectively paddle themselves and their boat to the opposite end of the pool and back.
Shelley has done this every year for quite a while as it is something that all the students enjoy whether they be participants or spectators. It’s entertaining for students as well as staff.
Each team consisted of two people. Most teams are composed of students but there are usually two teams of staff members including the High School Principal Mr. Bialasik whose boats are designed and constructed by students.
“It was also great to see how many students wanted to attend the event to cheer on their classmates,” he once said.
Bialasik has been the principal at SGI High School since July 2016. Shelley was hired shortly after and started the boat races the following winter. Bialasik mentioned that he has participated in each one since then. For those of us who have had the boat races since we started high school, it seems sort of like a tradition even though it hasn’t been going on that long.
“The best part for me has been seeing how the event has grown both in terms of participation and in terms of ingenuity,” Bialasik noted.
Of course, there must be guidelines as with any competition: the boat is supposed to be about eight feet long and four feet wide. Another important aspect of the competition is the creation of paddles which is often left to the last few days, being the biggest regret of the competitors.
Shelley announces each race while balancing on a paddleboard in the middle of the pool from which he also decides on grades for each group based on performance and other factors.
Not all the students who participate are in the Tech I class, some are just students who frequent the technology rooms and decided they wanted to try it out. Shelley is always welcoming to more competition.
Henry Domst and his partner started their boat about two weeks before the competition, a week after the others. He said they “chose to wing it” but ended up doing very well and receiving second place overall.
When he was asked about their strategies in the pool, he said the most important aspects were balance and communication.
“Other than that, paddle as fast as you could,” Henry added. In regard to the construction, they focused on “maintaining stability with a smaller boat.”
As a senior, Henry also stated: “Overall, it was a great experience, I will always have the memories made with teachers and students.”
The whole event is just a great experience for all whether they be competitors or spectators, students or staff. For those who participate in the races, it is largely a learning process. For those who sit in the stands and watch, it’s just a fun last-day-before-break activity.