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TX High School Students Build Concrete Canoes

Friday, March 20, 2020

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Recently, engineering students from Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls, Texas) have been working on the development of concrete-based canoes.

As part of a class project, the students are searching for the perfect water-to-cement ratio using mathematics and engineering skills.

About the Project

Headed by engineering teacher Leslie Alexander, students taking the school’s Engineering Design I class have been split into two groups. While both groups are testing their skills in searching for the perfect ratio to create the best, most flexible concrete, they are taking sperate approaches regarding the canoes’ molds.

“We use concrete because then they have to use mathematics and find out how to float it,” said Alexander. “They have to design the canoe and build it. They’ve already completed the designs. Now, they’re testing the different concrete mixes to find the best one.”

In one group, students have created their canoe mold using a traditional Styrofoam method, while the second group of students crafted a mold using a cement mix that forms a more flexible concrete.

According to reports, the class goal is to build a 10-foot-long canoe able to support two students, or a maximum weight of roughly 300 pounds. The canoes themselves are estimated to weigh about 500 pounds each.

Through the project, Alexander points out that the students use what they’ve learned in class thus far and are considering pressure, buoyancy, density, upthrust, and center of gravity, among other aspects.

Students are slated to race one another in May.

Other Concrete Canoes

The American Society of Civil Engineers has been conducting concrete canoe competitions since the early 1970s, when student chapters of the society constructed and competed their engineered floating devices to see which could design the most viable canoes made with the ubiquitous building material.

In January, the University of Wisconsin–Madison announced that it would be hosting the 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers’ spring and summer canoe competitions.

The ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference regional competition was slated to take place April 2-4, and the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition was to take place June 13-15. Both events have since been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tagged categories: Cement; Cementitious; Competitions; concrete; Education; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development

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