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, students (ranging from fifth to eighth grade) 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 three schools participate in the program: South Bristol School, West Bath 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 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 (2018-2019) marks the 23rd anniversary of the program. Funding is generously provided by the Town of Woolwich, Shelter Institute, Cornelia C Viek, Anthony Barnes, Charles and Laurie Simpson, and Katie and Randall Smith.
Visitors are welcome to drop in at the museum’s Boatshop on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays during the school year to see the students at work. Please call (207) 443-1316 to confirm times.
Thank you to our generous sponsors, including: