Float or sink?

Will it float or sink? This was the big question on the minds of participants at the hands-on boat building challenge as part of Aboriginal Achievement Week.

The three teams under the expert guidance of Sean Maw, Matt Dunn and Grayson Beaudin had 30 minutes to discuss, design, and build a miniature boat using everything from cardboard, plastic ties, and duct tape. A lot of duct tape.

Once built, the boats went through rigorous testing for stability and total weight carry. Each boat was judged on how well it floated, how much weight it could withstand before succumbing to the water, and whether or not it could carry a horse – a toy horse that is.

The boats that were victorious and won the big prizes were both under the fearless leadership of the engineers. Maw’s team created a boat that easily carried the weight of the horse and Dunn’s boat won for being the most stable.

"This kind of fun experiential learning helps create lasting positive memories and attitudes, in this case, towards Indigenous watercraft design and the abilities of those that designed them,” said Sean Maw, the Huff Chair in Innovative Teaching and an associate professor in the Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development.

“This event was a fun, hands-on way to showcase some of the technology and designs of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous peoples,” said Matt Dunn, Indigenous Peoples Initiatives Coordinator. “Participants left with an appreciation of physics and Indigenous engineering design.”

A projection screen showed a continuous slideshow featuring various types of Indigenous watercraft built by Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

The University of Saskatchewan celebrated Aboriginal Achievement Week with a range of cultural events, discussion panels, artistic activities and celebrations.

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