Students Swim for their lives on Cardboard Boats


It was a different day for many elementary and secondary school students across our city. Instead of sticking in the classroom for another regular Tuesday afternoon, Skills Ontario invited groups of students to the YMCA to test their intuitiveness and wits.

With the plethora of jobs open in trades around the nation, students explored and developed skills required for trades when they were tasked with designing cardboard boats to be used in a friendly competition. The country is seeing anywhere from a 13% job increase, to as high as 133%, depending on the specific trade, a hole Skills Ontario is doing their part to fill.

Teamwork, problem solving, and design skills were all necessary for success if students were to make a boat out of two pieces 4′ by 8′ corrugated cardboard and some duct tape. The boats would then be tested in a weight test and race. The race would use the length of the pool, where participants could either have one paddler or two depending on preference, whereas the weight test would see how long the boat could float with a student. If the boat floats for one minute with one student, then another would hop in. Students keep joining at every minute interval to test how much weight their structure could hold.

Skills Ontario makes its rounds in the province, starting the season of cardboard boat racing earlier this month in Marathon, Ontario on November 6th. The last competitions will paddle through until early February 2019, when the preliminary races wrap up in Fergus, Ontario. The dates for the championships are yet to be announced, but will be updated here: