As surprising as it may seem, one of the most common household items, cardboard, can be used to construct a boat. Building a cardboard boat has become a fun activity that anyone can take part in. Towns and schools hold annual cardboard boat regattas, judging the entrants on speed, design, and creativity. In New Richmond, Ohio there is even a cardboard boat museum! These special boats are more than just a box thrown into water; they are designed using elements of engineering and physics to make them not only water ready, but fast and durable. Building cardboard boats is an exciting way to incorporate topics studied in the classroom into an exciting educational experience.
Boats were first used in very ancient times. The earliest boats were log boats, or dugouts, that were made from a hollowed-tree. These boats date all the way back to the Stone Age, nearly 10,000 years ago (History of Boats and Ships, n.d.). Around the year 3000 B.C., the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians were using boats for travel along the Nile River. The Egyptians made cotton sails to harness wind energy to propel the boat. This took some of the workload off of the hardworking oarsmen. In 1200 B.C., the Phoenicians and Greeks were the most seafaring people along the Mediterranean (Jake, n.d.). The Phoenicians constructed massive cargo ships and put two large masts on them. The boats were around 100 foot long and could carry 150 tons (“History of Boats and Ships”, n.d.). The Romans become the dominant rulers of the sea in 100 B.C. The Romans constructed merchant ships nearly 200 feet long that could carry 1000 tons, as well as human passengers. These boats were often overcrowded because the lower level was usually filled with trade, which made for close quarters. The Vikings conquered the sea in 100 B.C. in their boats, known as longships. These ships were the main naval vessel of the Scandinavians (Jake, n.d.). Their boats were built for speed due to their shallow hull design which allowed them to cut through the water with ease. During that time these powerful boats were very intimidating. Today, however, we have boats that have reached over 300 miles per hour and ships that are 1,600 ft. long (Jake, n.d.).
Parts of a Boat
The early boat makers learned that by altering the design of the boat they could gain speed, stability, and capacity. There are five main parts of the boat: the hull, the bow, the keel, the stern, and the compression beam (Friant, 2009). The hull is the main body of a ship, including the bottom, sides, and deck. They come in many shapes, depending on the purpose of the ship. The hull can be flat on the bottom, a “V” shape, have a round bottom, or can incorporate multiple shapes (Watson, n.d.). The bow is the front of the ship (Friant, 2009). The bow is designed to lift the boat over the waves rather than to cut through them. This is a crucial part of the ship because it greatly affects the speed of the boat. The...