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VIDEO: Cardboard Boat Races bring learning and fun together

The annual Cardboard Boat Races are in the books for another year

Skills Ontario’s Cardboard Boat Races are helping elementary and secondary students from across Ontario learn about their career opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies, all while having a boatload of fun!

Teams of four are provided two sheets of 4’ by 8’ corrugated cardboard and some duct tape to build a boat in just two hours. Students must bring their problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills and are judged on their planning, design, and construction, as well as their boat’s speed and ability to withstand weight. Meanwhile, video teams work to capture the best footage for their submissions for the video challenge.

“Our Cardboard Boat Races seek to introduce students to essential skills and to the basics of workplace safety that are required for today’s highly-skilled workforce,” says Mitch Waters, Competitions Coordinator. “Skills Ontario recognizes the demand for skilled professionals, so our goal is to give students the opportunity to learn about and experience the skilled trades and technologies in a fun and immersive way.”

The 2019-2020 Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Race program is sponsored by Cascades, Penske Logistics, and 3M.

Last year, the Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races had a record 2500 student competitors take part in 24 events across Ontario, up from 1,500 student competitors just three years prior. Winners at each race qualify to compete against youth across Ontario in the Cardboard Boat Race Championships in Belleville. The Elementary level Championships are March 5th, 2020 and the Secondary level Championshipsare March 6th, 2020. For more information, visit

Quick Facts

  • The Weight Record is a total weight of 1411 pounds -- that’s the equivalent of nearly six baby elephants!
  • In 2008-2009, the Speed Record was set at 10.73 seconds – a record which still stands today!
  • The Skills Ontario Boat Race program began in 1992 as an event designed to introduce students to construction technology in a fun, team setting. The program was originally aimed at Secondary Students but quickly grew to the Elementary level after a few years. Provincial Championships were added to the program due to its growth in popularity.

Daily Schedule

  • 9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Arrival: Sign-in team and hand-in boat designs
  • 9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Welcome and Orientation
  • 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Boat Construction
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Clean-up and Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Race and Weight Challenges
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Awards Presentation

About Skills Ontario – Promoting skilled trades and technologies in Ontario since 1989

Over the last 30 years, Skills Ontario has been growing a portfolio of programs including in-school presentations reaching 125,000 students across Ontario, career exploration summer camps, Young Women’s and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Career Exploration Conferences, and annually hosting Canada’s largest skills competition which attracts 37,000+ spectators who cheerlead the 2,400+ competitors in 68+ trades and tech categories. To see how you can partner with Skills Ontario and help make a difference in the lives of Ontario’s youth, visit


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