2015-08-14 / Front Page

Boat makes landfall in Ireland

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Students visiting Arranmore College for the summer pose with a 4-foot boat that washed up on the shores of Arranmore Island (Ireland) in late July. The boat was launched in February on behalf of Scarborough students who used the boat to study geography, oceanography and improve communication skills. (Courtesy photo) Students visiting Arranmore College for the summer pose with a 4-foot boat that washed up on the shores of Arranmore Island (Ireland) in late July. The boat was launched in February on behalf of Scarborough students who used the boat to study geography, oceanography and improve communication skills. (Courtesy photo) The town of Scarborough was founded in 1658 and named after the English city of Scarborough in Yorkshire, England. Now more than 350 years later, Scarborough has a new connection to the British Isles.

In late July, Red Storm, a 4-foot boat that was made this fall for Scarborough’s primary and intermediate school students to study, was found thousands of miles away by a local teacher who was walking along the shore of Arranmore Island in Ireland.

The boat was brought back to a group of children at Colaiste Arainn Mhoir, (Arranmore College) who were at the college for a summer course in the Irish language.

The boat, built by students at the Midcoast School of Technology in Rockland, was provided through Educational Passages, a Maine-based company launched in 2008 to instruct children about ocean currents and geography.

It was launched by a fisherman from Portsmouth, New Hampshire Feb. 6 off Georges Bank, a continental shelf off Cape Cod, Massachusetts that divides the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean.

The boat, which K-2 technology integrator Courtney Graffius called a “great example of 21st century learning,” arrived in Ireland in fairly good condition — albeit without a sail — after nearly six months on the open ocean. It is the only boat that has made landfall since Scarborough started the boat project three years ago.

Scarborough’s boat, however, was not the only Maine boat that had made landfall since last school year began. West, Westbrook Middle School’s boat, landed on the coast of Portugal in mid-November. The heavily damaged boat was rehabbed and relaunched in early June. Scot, Bonny Eagle’s boat, landed in La Coruna, Spain in mid-November. The SS Maine Shire, a boat from Southside Middle School in Houlton, was found undamaged on a sandy beach in Bermuda in May.

“We were pretty thrilled it made it in such good condition and made it so quickly,” said Graffius, who helped to find ways to tie the boat project into classroom learning at the primary schools. “I was a little frustrated our previous boats didn’t (make land fall), but we are excited this one did.”

The Red Storm boat toured the schools throughout the fall and was incorporated into lesson plans for teachers across the district. Because the boat was outfitted with a GPS, students were able to track its progress throughout the spring.

“With the younger kids, it allowed them to make a concrete connection with geography and the world around them,” Graffius said.

Monique Culbertson, Scarborough School Department’s director of curriculum and assessment, said the boat tied perfectly into the K-2 lesson on oceans. “Here’s a way to bring it to life for them,” she said.

Wentworth School Technology Integrator JoEllen Clive, another collaborator on the project, said the other boats that were launched are still giving off GPS pings, so those potentially could escape the ocean currents and make landfall as well. Each boat, she said, is guaranteed to give off GPS signals for at least a year.

Now that the Red Storm boat has made landfall, Culbertson said, it presents “a great opportunity for collaboration with our Irish friends.”

Karin Kelly, whose third-grade students created a digital news report about the project and Scarborough to be included with the boat, said she hoped her students could be pen pals with their Irish counterparts who now have the boat.

Aside from the news report, the boat also included essays from second-grade students, pictures and videos of Scarborough.

“Our students really worked hard on their communication skills to imagine what the audience might be. We didn’t know where the boat was going to land. There has been a tie-in to a lot of curriculum areas,” Graffius said.

There are plans to relaunch the boat.

“We will present it to the Athport primary school on Arranmore, which is marking its centenary next weekend, and the students will repair and relaunch it, so it can continue on its way,” Noel Gallagher, an instructor at the college, was quoted as saying in an Aug. 4 article in the Irish Times.

This fall teachers at the two schools will attempt to connect and find other learning opportunities. One possibility, Graffius said, would be video conferencing.

While those connections are made, staff are already planning for the 2015-2016 boat project, as well as finding ways to integrate other technology projects into the curriculum. To help in that regard, last week Wentworth School hosted the district’s annual Digital Learning Days, an opportunity for teachers to come together to learn about how to implement new and emerging technology in their classrooms. Topics included how to use interactive projectors, blogs, databases and Google technology in education.

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