Noodlecraft – Testing the Waters

by Marziah Rajabzadeh, Sophia Austrins, Colleen Clifford, Junzhe Liu, Nick McFadden

We want our watercraft to have a spatial quality, so that it can be occupied in more than one way. It also needs to stay upright, and safely support multiple people. After churning on some scratch models (physical and digital), and experimenting with how to join and shape pool noodles, we landed on a form we think will work: a hemi-donut.

We’re hoping this form will be structurally sound, and we’re not sure how to reinforce it yet, but with the clock ticking, we probably won’t be able to answer that question until we start final construction. This is definitely an exercise in communication and remaining open to unexpected outcomes, especially since none of us have worked with a material quite like pool noodles before.

From a practical angle, it’s looking like duct tape and rope are going to work best for all joints, which will save a lot of time during the assembly process – assuming the tape holds. We’re also going to test a weave element and see how much it helps hold the form together.

Before passing the point of no return, we’ve built a full-scale mock-up of the internal donut ring, and today we took it out for a test dip! Some takeaways:

  • It floats. We expected this, but it was still a relief.
  • It can’t support much weight in this form – we need more noodles on the water, and more structure to maintain the form.
  • People love it! Kids got particularly excited, although adults enjoyed it as well, and came up to us to find out what we were doing. Interestingly, there were a handful of people who pretended they didn’t see us walking towards them, which was rather impressive considering we were not an inconspicuous group. But overall, the response was one of delight and interest – and this is just a small prototype.

There’s a lot more work to be done, but we feel ready to forge ahead. The float is next Saturday, and you can expect to see us out on the river with a brightly colored noodlecraft that looks something like these models.

More to come.