The museum’s Discovery Boatbuilding Program, which began in 1995, teaches an innovative and hands on traditional boatbuilding curriculum. Each week during the school year, two groups of seventh and eighth-grade students spend one day a week at the museum’s Boatshop. Maine Maritime Museum was an early pioneer in utilizing boatbuilding as a vehicle to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), a concept that is now mirrored in numerous programs across the country.
The Discovery Boatbuilding Program is designed to put students in a working environment that emphasizes and develops each student’s personal growth, teamwork, leadership, responsibility and problem solving. Safe work practices and shop skills are developed early on to ensure student safety. Currently two schools participate in the program: South Bristol School and Woolwich Central School.
During the first semester, students develop an understanding of basic woodworking techniques, wood technology, and thinking in three dimensions. Each student builds three increasingly difficult projects to take home: are a three-legged stool, a tool box, and a carved half model of the skiff they will be constructing. In the second semester, the students go through every process of building a 12-foot, flat-bottom skiff of a traditional Maine design. "Graduation" from the program takes place around the last day of school, when the students launch and row their boats with the entire student body in attendance.
"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 (2014-2015) marks the 19th consecutive class from South Bristol that has participated in the program, and the seventh from Woolwich. South Bristol’s funding comes from the Ferguson Foundation, and Woolwich’s funding comes from The Bank of Maine, the Town of Woolwich and generous individual donors.
Visitors are welcome to drop in at the Museum’s Boatshop on Wednesdays (Woolwich) or Fridays (South Bristol) during the school year to see the students at work. Please call (207) 443-1316 to confirm times.
Find out what's happening today in the Discovery Boatbuilding Program on the Boatshop Blog.