Jonah Dobrec was pretty sure he had his boat design perfected.
He based it off a garbage barge — long and narrow.
“I figured that, maybe, if (a barge) could hold a lot of garbage, then it could hold a lot of marbles,” he said.
Soon, it was judgment time for the third-grader from Cascade Elementary School in Kennewick.
He put his aluminum foil boat in a tub of water and began piling in marbles to see how well and for how long the craft would stay afloat.
The buoyancy experiment was one of several water-related activities Cascade students participated in Thursday at the Reach center in Richland. The museum, at the west end of Columbia Park, regularly welcomes schoolkids for field trips and hands-on fun.
On Thursday, staff members from the Richland office of RBC Wealth Management also were on hand helping out.
A company official announced a $10,000 donation to the Reach for water-related education activities, with the goal of promoting stewardship and long-term protection.
“What a phenomenal facility this is,” said Brad Fisher, a senior vice president and the local branch director. “We’re excited to be involved in an organization like this that (focuses on) education about the environment and brings a renewed energy in Columbia Park.”
The financial services firm is donating more than $3.2 million for water protection programs in nine countries, including the United States, through its 2015 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grants. The $10,000 donation to the Reach is among the largest on the West Coast.
Reach officials will use the money to run water-related education programs for kids this summer and next school year, with the Columbia River shoreline as the classroom. Students will learn about direct field observation and investigation, create a database of information and learn about nature mapping, among other things.
“We really want children to learn about the Columbia River and the health of the river and how we protect it,” said Lisa Toomey, Reach CEO. “The only way they’re going to do that is to get exposed directly to the river and have the chance to go down to the riverfront, and explore and investigate and learn what the river is telling them.”
During Cascade Elementary School’s field trip Thursday, students checked out models of Columbia River fish and learned about water quality testing.
Jonah found that his barge design held up well during the aluminum foil boat experiment. Several marbles in, it showed no signs of going down.
His classmate, Jiselle Rodriguez, 8, had even better luck. Her watercraft was round and wide.
“I just folded it on the sides ... and flattened it out so it would have more room,” she explained.
It held 207 marbles before it began taking on water.
Jiselle said the experiment was fun. And coming up with a design that stayed above water?
“It felt good,” she said.