After a brief hiatus due to COVID and distance learning, AP Physics II students at The Episcopal School of Dallas held their second Recyclable Watercraft Exhibition last week in ESD's Quarry. This race was the final capstone to a project nearly two months in the making: constructing a watercraft out of recyclable materials that could support at least 150 lbs of weight that is a) as small of a volume as possible and b) as buoyant as possible. The test? Racing in the Quarry.
Back in September, AP Physics II studied fluid mechanics, which included a study of buoyancy. After discussing fluid mechanics and thermodynamics of hurricanes, students looked specifically at how anthropogenic climate change has affected hurricane formation. As a sort of real-world application project, AP Physics Teacher Matthew Varvir challenged students to create a prototype "emergency watercraft device" for communities that are seeing higher risks of flooding. "This project is essentially a way for them to reinforce some concepts as well as delving deeper into some physics that goes beyond the content of this class," said Varvir. Students have spent the last several weeks constructing their watercrafts outside of class. "I think there is no question that they have enjoyed the opportunity to work with their hands and build something rather than just seeing all of the ideas on a whiteboard."
Five groups, each with their own watercraft prototype, gathered in the Quarry for "testing" with quite the spectator crowd in attendance. Many upper school students and teachers gathered outside to watch the resulting watercraft while Mr. Varvir and Asst. Director of Outdoor Education Davis Felder ’06 supervised from the water. This year's winner was Kai Robinson '22, whose watercraft was constructed of recycled water jugs.
Congrats to these hard-working Eagles on a very fun race!