Ask any PCS upperclassman or graduate what their most memorable maritime experience was at Paul Cuffee and most will agree: building their boat in 5th grade.
Each year, working in teams of three, 5th graders begin their Boat Unit in January, learning about the parts of a boat and their functions, using math skills to calculate speed and mass, incorporating literary allusions and art in naming and presenting their model boats.
Built from cardboard and waterproofed by tape, the model boats sport masts made of dowels and sails of sailcloth. Each one is designed with buoyancy, stability and speed in mind.
At this year’s Boat Design Fair, twenty two boat judges assembled: veteran sailors, nautical architects, harbormasters and other marine experts who inspected each boat, gave feedback and listened while the 5th graders explained every step of their building process.
Later in the afternoon, the boats were tested in a water tank in their classroom. The effects of hull shape and mast height and other design principles were evident as each boat was tested for buoyancy, stability and speed.
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