Friday, January 25, 2019

A project worth supporting...

Greta Thunberg making sense, a quick future reality check, and while the climate is going to hell take comfort that someone is going to make a profit on it...

David Reece dropped me a line regarding a kids boatbuilding project he was working on which is all kinds of cool but could use a little love and support. Truth be told, he had me at "kids building boats" and the fact that it's a Bolger boat they're building is just icing on the proverbial cake.

So, I'll let David tell you all about it...

Bob was kind enough to let me write a post on his blog so that I can let you all know about an exciting new boat building project of my own.

Several months ago, after a stint abroad with my wife and young kids, I was back home in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, looking for a job.  A friend tipped me off to an extraordinary private middle/high school called “Springhouse Community School.” Under the umbrella of the organization Reimagining Education, this school seemed to be doing just that.

They didn't have a position open for me, but when I told them about my experiences building boats with school kids in the past, I was hired on to run a semester-long boatbuilding program that I have dubbed “SpringShip.”  In SpringShip, I serve two roles. Two days a week, I lead a group of students in building a yet unnamed boat, hopefully the first in a series. The rest of the week, I co-teach a class that teaches Math and Science through the lens of boat building and sailing, with a touch of nautical culture thrown in by literature and the singing of sea shanties.

The program will culminate in a camping/sailing trip to the Chesapeake Bay in May.

The Class

In the class, we use sailing and sailboats as a lens on math and science.

In our exploration of scale and proportion, we had the students practice scaling boat plans down to cardboard models, one measurement at at time.

For a little geometry practice, the students built fully functioning sails to match their boats.

Just so they could see the boats in action and learn a little bit about aerodynamics, I built them a carousel to attach them to.  We took it outside and put the models through their paces.

The Shop

We didn't have a build space, so we had to convert on bay of an old dairy barn (the one they used to scoop the manure out of with a loader) to a heated boat shop, basically by building a plastic room.

The Boat

For a boat, we chose a scaled-up version of a Phil Bolger design called, Pirate Racer.

After adding side air boxes and a couple more masts to keep our “pirate crew” of teens busy, we have a unique, but serviceable design. 

The Benefits for Students

I never would have guessed it, but these kids are taking to boat building like seagulls to a bag of cheetos. For those of you who love boats and sailing, you know how rare and rewarding it is when the younger generation gets excited about those things, too. Here is a group of kids from a tiny rural town in the mountains, willingly learning about boats, boat design, sailing, construction, woodworking, and nautical life. 

The kind of skills they are learning are beyond my expectations.  Not only manual skills, but highly transferable skills like problem solving and cooperation, resilience and creativity. When problems arise, these students confront them with the same determination and grit that you would expect from adults. This is going to be transformative for them.

The Problem

The only catch is that the school hasn't been able to raise enough money to complete the project. Therefore we have started a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to make up the shortfall.

If you could make a donation, however small, it would go a long way toward passing on the love we all share for “Simply messing about in boats.” 

Thanks again to Bob for giving me the space on his great publication to spread the word.
-David Reece


You know you want to do the right thing.

Listening to the Beach Boys

So it goes...