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KCTS 9 Express in 2015 Milk Carton Derby + Guide to Making Your Own Boat

KCTS 9 will be making their first race appearance in the 2015 Milk Carton Derby with their boat, the KCTS 9 Express. Throw those oars up and come support your friends at KCTS 9 when they race at 11:45 a.m. on July 11 at Green Lake Park.

The Milk Carton Derby, part of Seafair Derby Day, is an annual event that consists of multiple race categories for boats engineered solely from milk cartons. The KCTS 9 Express (named by our viewers!) will be competing against other boats in the groups/commercial category amongst other teams such as Albert Lee Appliances and PCC Natural Markets. 


Whether you’re planning on competing in a milk carton derby in the future, or just want to experiment with your unconventional engineering skills, this guide will help you build your own ultimate watercraft!

Before you begin to build your boat, decide whether you want a boat that will race for speed, or if you just want to be the best-looking boat around town. Choosing which category you’re aiming for will help in choosing your materials that you use to create your boat. If you are aiming for speed go for supplies that are less dense, but if speed isn't a factor for you, you can add more to your boat!

The great thing about building a boat out of milk cartons is that you can unleash your imagination through innovation. When choosing your materials for your boat, be creative – that’s what makes this part so fun! Every boat needs:

•    Milk Cartons
Approximately 70 or more to build a stable boat (both cartons and milk jugs work -- make sure they're empty!) The more cartons you use, the less likely you will capsize.
•     A Solid Base
What will stabilize your boat? Try styrofoam, wood slabs, pvc pipes, or steel pieces.
•    Binding
What will hold your boat together? Chicken wire, netting, plastic wrap, and mesh work.
•    Decorations
Give your boat some style points and decorate with paint, posters, colored foam, carpet, and more!
•    Oars
Wooden or plastic oars can be used, the choice is yours.
•    Additional Materials
Don't forget to grab essentials such as hot glue, nails, a power drill, and other building tools to get your boat on the right track.

Photo courtesy of: Seafair

1.    Start by lining up your milk cartons on a flat surface in the shape that you’d like to build the base of your boat into
 Tip: Sketching the design prior to building can make it easier to assemble your boat 
2.    Solidify your base
Take your materials that you’ll use to use as the base of your boat (wood, PVC pipes) to secure your milk cartons 
Tip: You could use a wood slab to secure all cartons on a single board (raft-style)
3.    Bind everything together
Once you’ve got your base, it’s important to bundle everything up to ensure nothing flies off once you hit the water. 
Take the supplies you chose (plastic wrap, netting, wire) and wrap up the base of your boat with the milk cartons
Tip: This is essentially the bulk of your watercraft, and therefore the most important. Assure that everything is snug and all corners are secure so that nothing can pop out when it hits the water. 
4.    Decoration time 
Now is the time for your boat to get pretty! 
Paint your boat to add some color, get funky and wrap it up in colored duct tape
Tip: You can prop up (with rope or staples) a wooden post on your boat to hang a sign of your boat’s name.  

Alas, the moment of truth! Will you sink or swim? It’s time to take your fellow milk carton boat engineers with you to try out your new masterpiece. 
Tip: Aim for testing your boat at a lake. Still water with mild wake is much easier to work with than a running river. 

REMEMBER: Safety first! Don’t forget a life jacket before getting in the water to test out your new boat. 

The KCTS 9 Express competes in the 2015 Milk Carton Derby at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, at Green Lake Park.  

Blog post authored by Nikki Torres Garcia, KCTS 9 Social Media Intern.