Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Educational Passages Miniboat Project

Grade: 4 Communications & Math Lab Groups
Teachers: Molly Smith & Cathy Wolinsky
Subject: All
Project Name: Educational Passages

A group of 4th graders who are in the Communications and Math Lab groups with Molly Smith (Talents grades 3-8) have taken on the task of following one of five drifting miniboats that were launched this spring. The boat was launched Saturday, May 12 by the crew of the State of Maine (Maine Maritime). The kids are in contact with the captain and they are working on latitude, longitude, rate of speed and some of the other concepts of navigation.

Based on a workshop session at a conference on Science and Literacy held at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute a few months ago we decided to look for a way for our students to participate in a "miniboat expedition". For more about this project, see the website and articles below:
This project costs about $1500 a boat, but the volunteers who run it (Dick Baldwin, sailor; Lyman-Morse Boats; Maine Maritime Academy; Midcoast School of Technology, etc.) do all the work for free and the cost to our school is $350 for the GPS unit that travels on the boat and a monthly fee to monitor it. There will be opportunities at YES and HMS for that small group of students to share the project with others as it connects to curricula, we bring in guest speakers, etc.

The GPS unit on our boat connects to a company that will show the track of the boats in the project (at We don't know how many months to expect the boat to be en route, one boat arrived in Ireland after 5 months, another one took a year to travel from Puerto Rico to Portugal. The hope is that if a boat makes it to Europe the students can connect with the school that retrieves the boat.

As of May 30th the miniboats have been moved by hurricane winds are are all beached on the Carolina coasts. Today there was an article in the Hatteras newspaper about the people who found the Yarmouth boat on the beach and the next steps for getting it back out onto the ocean.

Update: October 8, 2012 from the project Newsletter:

5 Maine Maritime Launches

The “State of Maine” training ship launched 5 mini-boats approximately 250 miles north of the Bahamas on May 11th.  Within 10 days these boats got “battered” off the Carolinas by tropical storms Alberto and Beryll which blew all 5 boats across the Gulf Stream and on to the Carolina beaches.  A charter fishing boat captain told us in his 46 years he had never seen the seas so rough.  One of our boats was found by surfers on Cape Hatteras, two ended up on uninhabited islands and another went ashore on Myrtle Beach.  The 5th boat stopped reporting several miles off the beach and probably founded coming ashore.  Four of the five boats were recovered undamaged with their rigs intact attesting to their solid construction and their ability to transit our world’s oceans.
Two boats were taken to Charleston, South Carolina and put back aboard the “State of Maine” to be re-launched off Cape Hatteras, another boat was re-launched by surfers, and the 4th boat was released by the School of Coastal Studies on Cape Hatteras.  These 4 boats traveled up our east coast to Newfoundland where 2 made landfall and are currently being repaired and readied for re-launching in early October and the other 2 appear to be on their way to Europe.  All these boats can be monitored at

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