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Whatever Floats Your Boat: Teens Take on Cardboard Challenge

Group of Port high graduates, students have been working hard to build their boat as part of the Cardboard Boat Regatta.

It’s coming down to the wire for participants of the Cardboard Boat Regatta as part of the .

That’s right — cardboard boats — something not seen on the water too often, and exactly the reason one group of teenagers decided to take to the task of building a boat for the race.

"It’s not every day you get to build a cardboard boat," said Eric Gardner, a 2011 graduate. "This is a first time for all of us — it’s been a fun experience."

The festival runs Friday through Sunday, with the boat race on Saturday, as long as the weather cooperates.

Gardner is building the boat along with Port High sophomores Dan Gardner and Callum Toal and fellow 2011 Port graduate Jake Mueller. The group has also been able to seek advice from local marine architect Bill Prince, whose

The group formed after local engineer Don Voigt suggested the cardboard regatta to Alec Belling, Technology and Engineering Education teacher at , as a great way to engage the students with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), according to a press release from event organizers.

"The project has been formatted to bring the students an idea of how projects evolve in engineering project environs — from concept to design through model making and into final production," a press release said.

Belling put out the word, and these four students took the call.

Eric Gardner said he plans to attend Milwaukee School of Engineering for mechanical engineering this fall, and that Mueller also has plans to pursue engineering in his further education plans. Both Dan Gardner and Toall are interested in the field, Eric said, but have a few years of high school left before knowing if they will pursue a career in that direction.

As far as the boat goes, the group has been working hard — including at least one 6 a.m. test run — to get their boat done on time, something Eric Gardner said is likely to end up being the most challenging part of the experience.

“The time pressure has been and probably will be our (biggest) challenge,” Eric Gardner said. “We’re definitely going to have to move fast, but I think we’re going to be able to do it."

The Cardboard Boat Regatta begins with judging and viewing at about 1 p.m. Saturday near the inner harbor of Port’s marina. Boat races start at 2 p.m., launching in the boat launch area of the marine. Awards are expected to be given at 3 p.m.

, captained by Editor Lyssa Beyer and her boyfriend, Nick Schmid.

The race is part of the that runs from noon on Friday through 6 p.m. Sunday, and features tall ships, craft items for sale, educational and historic activities and displays, two music stages, harbor tours, children's activities, food and beverage vendors and fireworks.

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