Schools take to Skills Canada competition with cardboard boats

Ponoka Composite High School and St. Augustine School participated in this year’s Skills Canada cardboard boat race competition at SAIT Nov. 24 and took five of the top 20 positions.

  • Dec. 2, 2009 1:00 p.m.
St. Augustine School Grade 7 students Damian Adcock

St. Augustine School Grade 7 students Damian Adcock

By Jasmine Franklin

It was sink or swim for two local high schools that took the Skills Canada challenge to build a boat out of cardboard and duct tape.

Ponoka Composite High School and St. Augustine School participated in this year’s Skills Canada cardboard boat race competition at SAIT Nov. 24 and took five of the top 20 positions.

“I look for kids with interest who have fun and enjoy it,” said Dietrich Unruh, PCHS construction teacher. “I pick a certain type of kid — the ones who work hard and are willing to put in extra time.”

The competition, Skills Canada Alberta’s Annual Southern Alberta Cardboard Boat Race, required 50 teams of four students to build a cardboard boat in 90 minutes from cardboard, duct tape and a surprise item. The boats were raced against one another — with the students aboard — and tested in speed and weight.

There were 11 competing schools and over 70 boats.

“It really is a fun event, you meet new people,” said Scott Pylypow, member of PCHS’s second place winner at the competition.

PCHS students Scott Pylypow, Grade 11; Bryce Walls, Grade 12; Kyle Rausch, Grade 12 were one player short but still placed second in the competition, while Job van Harren, Grade 11; Katrina Pylypow, Grade 10; Kiara Kjenner, Grade 11; and Miranda Brookwell, Grade 10 took the third rank.

St. Augustine’s Grade 7 team of Blake Shimp, Jordan Labrie, and Damian Adcock placed eighth out of 30 teams; Grade 11 teams of Daniel Wyering, Dylon Hoar, Daniel Ansell, Brandyn Schneider, Nicole Beier, Lisa Marie McLennan, Sara Tomlinson, and Deanna Henderson placed fifth and sixth out of 20 teams.

Kelly Shimp and Brad Normandeau led the St. Augustine team, which chooses their team members differently.

“Students compete against each other,” said Shimp. “They submit plans and build boats beforehand to qualify in order to continue to the real competition.”

The cardboard boat race is considered a preparation for Skills Canada Alberta’s 18th Provincial Skills Competition where more than 550 competitors compete in various 40 trade and technology competitions.

The Provincial Skills Competition is Alberta’s qualifying event for the Canadian Skills Competition where the 2011 Team Canada for WorldSkills London 2011 will be selected.

The provincial competition is one Unrah is no stranger too — being involved since year 1, the construction teacher introduced the school to the competition and has been dedicated to it ever since.

“I always tell my kids that if I pick them to go they have a 95 per cent chance of winning,” Unrah said. “With all the work myself and the kids put into this program it really pays off — almost every year I get phone calls from Red Deer, Calgary and other areas to hire my students.”

“Sending the kids to fun competitions like this one really prepares them for provincials — they do better at provincials with this experience under their belt.”

Those who qualify after provincials will be sent to Waterloo, Ont. to represent Alberta at the national skills competition.

The competitions are designed to stimulate the development of leadership and technological excellence in Alberta’s youth. For more information visit www.skillsalberta.com