Local Students Test Physics Skills at UH Boat Race

More than 100 Houston-area teens will sink or sail when they put their physics acumen to the test for an April 10 cardboard boat race at the University of Houston.

Teams from nine local high schools will row their handmade vessels across the university's Olympic-size swimming pool in the Extreme Boating Regatta, sponsored by UH's Houston-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (H-LSAMP).  The race will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center natatorium.

Using only cardboard and duct tape, the students have spent the past few weeks applying lessons learned in physics class to build boats they hope are buoyant, stable and seaworthy - or at least pool-worthy.

"Students are making connections between concepts in physics and what actually happens with their boat, whether it sails or capsizes," said Robert Dubois, a visiting assistant professor of physics at UH who directs the department's outreach efforts.

The regatta, funded by a donation from the energy company BP, is intended to encourage students at predominately minority and underprivileged high schools to study science and engineering. In preparation for the event, Dubois has visited the participating schools to give a 90-minute crash course in physics classes on buoyancy concepts that students will need to know to build sturdy boats.

The race will feature 23 teams (four students each) from nine high schools, including Austin, MacArthur, KIPP, Hightower, Manvel, Eastwood, Kempner, Washington and South Houston.

In a series of heats inside the natatorium, teams will attempt to paddle across 50 meters without sinking. The team with the best time will win a $600 prize. Second- and third-place finishers will win $400 and $200, respectively, and a $100 prize will go to the team with the most unique boat design.

The race is the latest outreach effort of H-LSAMP, a well-established and federally funded program between UH and local schools to increase the number minorities studying science and engineering. This includes recruitment, tutoring and financial assistance. Since it began 10 years ago, the number of minority undergraduates receiving science or engineering degrees from UH has risen 50 percent.



Extreme Boating Regatta
Sponsored by UH's Houston-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (H-LSAMP)

WHEN: 10 a.m., Saturday, April 10
WHERE: Campus Recreation and Wellness Center natatorium, University of Houston
Houston-area high school students

For directions and parking information, visit http://www.uh.edu/campus_map/buildings/CRWC.php.

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit www.uh.edu/admin/media/sciencelist.html


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