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GHC partners with Floyd County Schools to host second annual cardboard boat challenge

September 18, 2019 – 2:30 PM

Nicholas Godfrey – Georgia Highlands Communications Manager

Georgia Highlands College and Floyd County Schools brought together hundreds of students last week for an unforgettable project-based STEM learning opportunity at GHC’s Paris Lake in Rome.


For the second year in a row, fifth graders from elementary schools across Floyd County took to the lake to measure their STEM skills. Teams of students created boats from cardboard materials and then placed their creations into the water for the ultimate test: will it float?

This year, 382 students came together to create 102 cardboard boats. From bow to stern, the only permissible shipbuilding materials were cardboard and duct tape. With boats crafted and crews ready, students set sail from the dock at Paris Lake in their vessels and steered toward land using wrapping paper tubes and bare hands.

For some students, it may have been their first time out on a lake, but for all students, it was a chance to put what they learned in the classroom into action.

“STEM projects and project-based learning gives each student a chance to find their strengths, gift, and talents. Plus, it allows them to do more hands-on activities where they tend to learn better in a more engaging environment,” said Nathan Medley, an instructional technology specialist with Floyd County Schools. “My desire is for our students to be able to have multiple learning experiences. Every student is an individual and will learn differently.”

The dry land held plenty of appeal and learning opportunities, too. Activities led by GHC’s STEM Center included creating a piano from bananas, a demonstration of a frog dissection, hands-on circuitry lessons, water art and more. The YMCA of Rome & Floyd County and Rome-Floyd ECO Center also committed time, resources and volunteers to make the event a success.

“The STEM Center did an outstanding job and the kids loved the activities they provided,” Medley said. “It was a tremendous learning experience all around.”

GHC faculty and staff were excited to help bring STEM to life for students for the second annual event.

“This event is a great way for GHC to give back to a local school system and to showcase the great resources that GHC has to offer to the community,” GHC Assistant Professor Jason Christian said.

After this year’s continued success, a third annual cardboard boat challenge is already in the works for next year.