Carson High School ROTC students learn ship construction using cardboard and tape |

Carson High School ROTC students learn ship construction using cardboard and tape

Teri Vance
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Nathan Gonzales, 18, with Carson High School Naval Junior ROTC, paddles a cardboard vessel across the pool at the Aquatics Facility in Carson City on Wednesday. Gonzales’ team won the competition with eight trips across the pool.
Cathleen Allison | Cathleen Allison / Nevada Photo

Before getting into her cardboard boat in the swimming pool, Nicole Brown, 17, was fairly confident her vessel was sound.

“We made a strong keel, and all the weight is in the middle,” she said.

She made it four laps across the pool at the Carson Aquatic Facility before the cardboard became too saturated to function.

“It was easy to paddle at first, but as more water started coming in, it wouldn’t work,” Brown explained. “It was leaning to the side and I couldn’t steer it.”

Ivy Campbell, 15, wasn’t so fortunate.

As soon as she stepped into her cardboard construction, it fell apart and sank.

“We didn’t have enough support,” she concluded. “When I sat on it, it just kind of collapsed on me.”

The Carson High School students built the vessels as part of a unit in their Naval Junior ROTC class.

Lt. Commander Dan Meyer, ret. U.S. Navy said he goes over the parts of the ship and basic construction techniques. Students are divided into groups of four or five people and are limited to using cardboard and duct tape. The cardboard can’t be layered, and only a single layer of tape can be used.

Each group christened their ship after a U.S. governor who they were required to research.

“This is a practical experience, and at the same time, they get to have a little fun,” Meyer said. “Once they figure out the paddling and they have a decent boat, they can do pretty well.”

This year’s record holder traveled eight laps in the pool before sinking.

Aaron Hanks, 15, worked on the USS Otter, which completed one lap.

“I honestly think our boat did really good,” he said. “Our thinking was we made it for the heaviest person but put our lightest person in it. It was a good team-building exercise.”

But even the failures weren’t a total loss.

“We learned what we did wrong,” Campbell said. “We learned that the elements Commander taught us really matter.”