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Middle school students use math, science knowledge to build cardboard boats


By KARINA LOPEZ, Staff Writer
Armed with only cardboard, sealant and duck tape, middle school students throughout the Imperial Valley managed to construct boats fit for two students for the MESA Cardboard Boat Competition.
The inaugural event saw a total of 33 boats from eight different Mathematics Science Engineering Advancement middle school programs test the water and the wind at the Central Union High School pool here Thursday.

“I think we did really well, it was fun,” said Sergio Llamas, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Westmorland Union School. “We had five people on our team and we just worked together to make a good design. That part was fun, too.”

Despite a muscular mishap, Leonardo Valdiva said he had a good time at the event and was excited when he learned his team had received third place.

“I messed up and got a cramp so I couldn’t paddle correctly,” Leonardo, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Meadows Union School said with a smile. “I didn’t think we’d done well enough to place.”

Elizabeth Garibaldi on the other hand was very confident in her team’s performance and even estimated it had taken them between 20 and 24 seconds to cross the pool.

“We worked really hard,” said Elizabeth, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Holtville Middle School. “We had to keep fixing our boat because the tape kept coming off.”

While Elizabeth was a few seconds off her team’s actual finish time, it was good enough for a second-place finish behind an additional Holtville Middle School team.

“I’m so excited that we won, it’s overwhelming,” said Janette Ortiz, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Holtville Middle School. “I was nervous in the beginning because water started coming into the boat right away.”

In addition to showcasing the students’ creativity, the competition also enforced math and science principles, which are important when it comes to MESA projects, said Jeanette Espino, Imperial Valley MESA program director.

“There are some pretty incredible boats out there,” Espino said. “The students blow me out of the water every single time.”

A day before the middle school competition, six high school teams competed with Imperial High School coming out on top followed by Southwest High School and an additional team from Imperial High.

“This competition was very inexpensive for us to do,” Espino said. “We gave them the duct tape and the sealant and they found their own cardboard. It was the perfect competition for them.”

Staff Writer can be reached at 760-337-3439 of

Inaugural Cardboard Boat Competition Winners

First place — The Floating Warriors, 29.66 seconds, Holtville Middle School

Janette Ortega

Debbie Santana

Lizeth Vaca

Angie Mendez

Nora Martinez

John Rodriguez

Second place — The Bubble Guppies, 29.84 seconds, Holtville Middle School

Elizabeth Garibaldi

Emily Allegranza

Marina Burfield

Saira Arroyo

Zaida Gonzalez

Jelisa Vargas

Third place — The Thunder Knights, 38 seconds Meadows Union School

Josh Gaede

Tristan Garcia

Anthony Higareda

Leonardo Valdiva

Published in MESA Activities News