Cardboard Classic Boat Race hits Old Town Hot Springs Friday

Audrey Dwyer
Soda Creek Elementary School fifth-graders Wally McGill
John F. Russell

If You Go

What: 2015 Cardboard Classic Boat Race

When: 9:45 a.m. Friday, May 22

Where: Old Town Hot Springs, 136 Lincoln Ave.

— Local fifth-graders were recently faced with a task that involved cardboard, tape and water.

Their challenge: to create a boat with those materials and race across the length of a swimming pool.

Today, their creations will be put to the test at the annual Cardboard Classic Boat Race at the Old Town Hot Springs pool. Creative boat judging will begin at 9:45 a.m., followed by the race at 10.

Teaching students about design and science, the race across the 25-yard swimming pool challenges them to work together and problem solve.

“This is 100 percent on their own,” said Kyle Paolantonio, fifth grade teacher at Soda Creek Elementry who has been involved with guiding the students for the race. “They meet outside of the classroom to work on this, and you can see those unlikely friendship get together to work out all of the details together.”

Paolantonio said her students were introduced to the project about a month ago; about half her class will participate, with about three or four students on each of the 15 teams.

The event started in 2010 and occurs twice a year with different age groups. Themes and costumes in the past were selected by the students and have included Vikings, hula costumes with a Hawaiian-type theme and an ice cream sundae banana boat.

“It’s grow in popularity each year,” said Sam Huff, aquatic director for the Old Town Hot Springs. “There is a lot of excitement and energy on the deck from the kids cheering.”

Before the boats get in the water, the students’ hard work will be judged by OTHS staff members, who will pick the top three boats based on creativity. Then, the race will start with the first seven boats. Whichever team touches the far side of the pool with the boat still intact and afloat will win the heat.

The winners of each heat will advance to the grand championship race. To win the grand championship, boats must make it twice across the length of the pool.

“It’s fun to watch because sometimes, the boats will all float, and it will be a tight race, or they will sink right away,” Huff said. “It’s unpredictable to know who will win just looking at the boats.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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