The Cardboard Regatta at Grosse Pointe North High School has quickly become a tradition. In its third year, the 17 heats featured 59 boats and about 300 students, teacher Gary Abud said.
It draws a student and faculty audience as well that fills the stands at the school's indoor pool, complete with Thor, the school's mascot. This year, newly appointed Principal Kate Murray was the emcee for the event, providing direction, encouragement and rousing the crowd here and there.
Abud, a physics teacher, began the project after reading about it. Although it had never been used in the Pointes, it was a common project in other school districts throughout the country. That was in 2011.
Two years later his co-worker and department chair, Don Pata describes the event as a tradition in which students expect to participate. Pata said Monday the event was more efficient this year, noting how quickly the races were happening, and how quickly Abud's idea transitioned from concept to reality.
The students are tasked with building a cardboard boat that will keep them afloat for two lengths of the pool. The designs of the boats vary greatly each year. Some have a great deal of duct tape, others have less. Some have embellishments and even team logos.
His original goal was to get students to learn from the project about why a particular design worked or didn't work. Following the first regatta, Abud said he was thrilled to see the excitement by the students about the project and the learning.
The excitement was still present Monday. Laughter, cheers and words of encouragement echoed in the pool room as administrators from the district's administration were lined up across the way serving as the competition's judges. Among the administrators were: Superintendent Tom Harwood, assistant superintendent Jon Dean, curriculum specialitsts Maureen Bur and Aaron Johnson and others.
Abud has been recognized for his work as a teacher. He's known for his use of technology in the classroom as well as using problem-based learning to teach.