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Alpena Community College Students Race Concrete Canoes

Concrete isn’t usually the first choice for material when it comes to building a water vessel.

ACC students race their concrete canoes in the pond outside Northern Lights Arena.

However, students at Alpena Community College were able to get it done and see how these canoes would perform in a race. “I think they did pretty well,” said Derrick Crosby, a sophomore at ACC. “Obviously they got off on the wrong foot and started going left and obviously we want to go straight. We pushed off on them which is a little bit of cheating but it doesn’t hurt anyone.”

When it comes to making these canoes float, the key is to make it lighter than the water which is 62.4 pounds per cubic foot. They did so by mixing their own concrete for the molds. “It’s basically replacing the sand and stone with some lightweight expanded glass and clays and shales, stuff like that to get them lighter than water,” said Eric Kennedy, instructor of concrete technology. “Normally, concrete is 150 pounds per cubic foot. We’re set at about 50 pounds per cubic foot. So, about a third of normal concrete you see out there.”

Crosby was proud to se his efforts paid off when the race began. “It’s good to see my mix works,” he said. “I’d say the hardest part about it was trying to build the forms and pour it that way, but it worked pretty well I think.”

While the steering may need to be worked on, the students can walk away knowing that if they ever need a concrete boat, they now have the knowledge to make it.