One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or transportation. High schoolers from across Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois got their paddles turning at the 8th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta Race.
The task seems simple enough, build a boat and sail it around the lagoon at the Bettendorf’s Middle Park. But it isn’t all smooth sailing. 
“They actually take cardboard, a non-commodity, and make a boat which many have never done before. So a lot of the schools integrate it into their schools with the engineering program,” said Pat Barnes, the Global STEM Program Director at John Deere.
Students had to not only solve the problem of making cardboard float, but they also had to be innovativeif they wanted to be the best and set new records. 
“I think it starts getting them excited about doing projects like this. Taking something from nothing and making it into whatever they can,” said Dan Drexler, the Bettendorf Engineering Problems Teacher. 
The 57 teams were allowed to use other materials to make up the boat but those materials couldn’t be a part of the boat’s core structure. For most students, the cardboard boat challenge comes down to one simple equation, f loat or swim.
“I have two goals. One is to float. The other is basically to make it around,” said Jackson Callahan, a Bettendorf HS Junior.
Bubba Gump, The Wetter the BETTer, and Boaty McBoatface were just a few of the names given to the cardboard vessels. Those that couldn’t withstand the test of water ended up in the boat graveyard. Students say that even if it didn’t go as they planned, the race still made quite the splash. 
“I liked it. It’s a fun experience. Hands-on and stuff like that. I like to build stuff and race it,” said Chris Arevalo, a Bettendorf HS Freshman.
This was the largest competition yet and organizers say they hope to keep expanding the fleet year after year.