One group of Vancouver Public School students had a unique answer to that inevitable question: “What did you do over the summer?” They could proudly say that this summer they built a boat from scratch. With funding from the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver Public Schools partnered with Wind & Oar Boat School to offer a no-cost program designed to introduce students to the craft of boat building. Open to VPS students entering grades 7-12, the sessions took place at Vancouver iTech Preparatory in the Jim Parsley Community Center. One of the district’s Programs of Choice for students in sixth through 12th grades, iTech combines STEM with the liberal arts by integrating art and design principles into research and problem-based learning.
Building a boat is a unique opportunity for project based learning integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math. These challenging subjects weren’t discouraging to Mya, who participated in the program for a second year in a row. “I loved making every measurement precise so every piece fits like a puzzle.”
Over the three-week program students developed woodworking skills in order to build a real, seaworthy vessel while also learning about environmental and maritime issues and making new friends. The culminating activity was a launch of the students’ boat. Surrounded by family members, program staff, and supporters like Superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, Dr. Steven Webb, students took turns riding in their 16 foot McKenzie River Drift boat, dubbed S.S. Carrot, in the pool at the Jim Parsley Center.
“I had so much fun working with my hands to create a boat from scratch” said Mya. “It is so satisfying when you see the boat that you built, float.”
Celebrating its fifth year, the Wind & Oar Boat School has served over 300 kids so far this year under the direction of Peter Crim. Every boat built is an opportunity for students to learn collaboration, problem solve, and learn to set and achieve goals. It is also an opportunity to build leadership skills and boost life skills and confidence.
The youth involved learn one thing about the program very quickly…it’s bigger than the boat.