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July 17, 2015
by: Nina Matti

Students design and construct boat for Art Armada

Students design and construct boat for Art Armada Header Image

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center hosted a competition for artists and engineers alike to race boats they designed and built. And, like they always do, Étude students got involved. Mosaic and IDEAS engineering teacher Tim Pasche initially organized the students’ involvement in the Fourth of July Art Armada event, but he said, “By the end of the project, they were entirely self directed.”

Each team that participated was given a few weeks of preparation time, as well as a set list of supplies they could use to build their boat, such as cardboard, PVC piping and rigid foam.

Hannah Staats, a rising junior who participated in the project, said, “As I go forward... I think I’ll be able to look back at this experience and see what we did wrong and learn from that.”

Étude Group founder and director Ted Hamm said, “Having our Mosaic and IDEAS students working together is an outgrowth of the type of safe and inclusive culture that is pervasive in our schools. These opportunities when done around a substantive project, allow our IDEAS students to model their thinking and our Habits of Professionalism.”

According to Staats, the Mosaic students did most of the design work, and later in the process the IDEAS students played a mentor role for the younger team members. Staats said playing the role of mentor helped her learn more from the project too. “It helps to have challenges processing a problem in a way that helps you explain it to someone else,” she said.

Pasche said, “As one student said to me, it’s nice to do something outside of the school year that has direction and allows them to work with a different mix of students. It’s nice to have students realize they can learn outside of school.”

“A lot of [what I learned] came from the hands on work we did,” Staats said. “I’m pretty adept at grasping ideas like physics, but being able to work hands-on with what we’re learning helped.”

Hamm said this hands-on method of learning is essential to the schools’ design and engineering programs. “The Art Armada project is a microcosm of the type of thinking promoted at IDEAS and Mosaic,” he said. “Our students explore the design/engineering process using similar materials through our Intro to Engineering Walk on Water project and our architecture course's Shanty Town project where students use cardboard to design structurally sound shanty town structures.”

“It’s about STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art and math] coming together to make something,” Pasche said. “Sometimes people create a division between arts and engineering, but engineering is an art. Both go through the same processes, just in different ways.”


  • Students ran with the 'Rock the River' theme, creating a Rock Age themed craft.

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