For three years Cave Spring Elementary School third through fifth grade students have tested the waters of the spring-fed Rolater Lake in cardboard boats for an annual paddle.

Tabatha Tierce, instructional coach for the schools, said as soon as Cave Spring became STEM certified, she petitioned to the school for the event.

“I did it in middle school and it was so much fun,” she said. “Even if we weren’t STEM certified we would do this.”

Students “shopped” for cardboard to use for their boats at the schools makerspace, Tierce said. The cardboard boxes were donated from local businesses and students could use as many boxes as they wanted. The students could only use two rolls of duct tape, however.

The goal was to paddle the width of lake in the cardboard boats, which some did like third graders Troy Perry and Captain Thomas Abbott. The two boys were in a group of four and said their boat took a few hours to make. The four students said they were excited to participate in the boat race for two more years.

Tierce said the quality of boats have improved over the years, as herself and other teachers have encouraged students to talk to groups whose boats have made it to get advice.

“Paddling is very important,” she said.

Some students stay in the same groups if they are successful she added.

Teachers were not allowed to help but were on hand if the students had any questions. Younger students came to watch the boats race but didn’t stay too long because of the heat. The event also attracts onlookers from around Cave Spring who weren’t necessarily part of the school.

“It has become a community event,” Tierce said.

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