Discovery Boatbuilding Program
Since 1994, Maine Maritime Museum has conducted an innovative educational program in which 7th and 8th grade students attend class one full day each week during the school year in the Museum's Boatshop where they learn the skills and techniques of traditional wooden boat building. Maine Maritime Museum was an early pioneer in utilizing boatbuilding as the vehicle to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) a concept that is now mirrored in numerous programs across the country.
The program also instills personal growth attributes within the students including teamwork, leadership, responsibility and follow-through. Safe work practices and shop skills are developed early on to ensure student safety. Currently two schools participate in the program, South Bristol Elementary School and Woolwich Central School.
During the first semester, students demonstrate an understanding of the basic skills of wood shop by individually constructing small wooden, progressively more difficult, projects such as a toolbox then a half-hull model. In the second semester, the students loft and construct two 12-foot flat-bottomed skiffs under the guidance of the boat shop manager and skilled volunteer craftsmen. "Graduation" from the program takes place during the last week of the school year when the students launch and row their boats before the student bodies of their respective schools.
"I cannot stress strongly enough my belief that the MMM/SBS Boat Building Program is a model for education in the 21st century. It provides students an opportunity to apply the skills (both academic and social) they are learning in the classroom to a real life setting." — Pamela J. Sperry, former principal at South Bristol School.
This year (2014) marks the 19th consecutive year that South Bristol Elementry School has participated in the program. The strength of the program is a result of the support from the school, the South Bristol parents, and the Museum’s dedicated volunteers and staff.
Woolwich Central School has participated in the Discovery Boatbuilding Program since 2009. Financial support for WCS's participation in the program support comes from The Bank of Maine, the Town of Woolwich and generous individual donors.
Visitors are welcome to drop in at the Museum’s Ned and Kathy Harding Boat shop on Wednesdays (Woolwich) or Fridays (South Bristol) during the school year to see the students at work. Please call (207) 443-1316 ext. 0 to confirm times.
You can also visit the South Bristol School website to see what the students are up to this week.
Find out what's happening today in the Discovery Boatbuilding Program on the Boatshop Blog.