ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- High school students at the University of Texas Permian Basin STEM Academy set sail this morning during the school’s sixth annual boat races. While some boats fell apart in the water, the students said they had a great time, and learned a lot in the process.

Principal Cody Griffin said each year the 6th through 12th grade students are challenged to build a boat, made of cardboard and duct tape, that will ferry students across the UTPB pool. And it’s all part of the STEM model that focuses on project-based learning. 

“We’re gonna give you cardboard and duct tape and we’re gonna ask you to build a boat that will get you from point A to point B,” Griffin said of the yearly challenge.

Senior Hagen Miller said the students work in teams and have two days to build their boats. Then, those boats are put to the test- will they support the weight of the students as they make their way across the pool? In some cases, the answer is no, but the students didn’t seem to mind. 

Freshman Preston Miller said his group’s boat sank relatively quickly, but it wasn’t an unexpected outcome.

“This year we named our boat the Titanic because our boat sinks every year, but it’s ok, we have fun,” Preston said. 

His brother Hagen’s team had a Penguins of Madagascar theme for their boat, it too sank, but the Miller brothers said the memories they’ve made during these yearly challenges are important, sink or swim. 

The learning lessons are important too, the students said every year they walk away with a better understand of the engineering process. And for the educators, that means they’ve done their jobs well.