Science, sailing, and ocean stewardship merged together for 45 students from Gompers Academy in MBAC’s first Classroom to Coast program. The program consisted of 4 classroom visits by MBAC instructors culminating in a field trip to MBAC to learn to sail. Each days activities were designed to promote student-driven learning and correlated with Next Generation Science Standards.
Funded through a grant as part of the US Sailing National Reach Initiative, the goal of the program was to inspire youth interest STEM and ocean literacy though sailing and hands-on experiential learning opportunities. Topics of student included buoyancy, measuring wind, simple machines, measuring sail area, and ocean literacy, which explores the relationship between the man’s effect on the ocean, and the ocean’s effect on man.
The activities were designed by US Sailing to transition from teacher driven learning, to student driven learning, where students are given the opportunity to solve problems through exploration as opposed to memorizing formulas or following a recipe to a solution. In the buoyancy activity, students were asked to design a vessel out of clay that could float the largest number of washers in three trials. Each trial students were able to improve their design and explain their approach.
In another activity, students were given several objects, from a sheet of paper, to a plastic straw, to a foam to go box, and were asked to place objects on markers indicating the amount of time it would take for that object to decompose. With only one object allowed per spot, students had to discuss why their object should take that spot should another student think their object belonged there.
The field trip to MBAC presented the first opportunity to sail for the 75% of the students who reported never having sailed prior to the program. The beginning sailors started with land instruction and were successfully completing a figure 8 course in sabots by lunch.
Pre and post testing of participants in the program showed an increase in sailing and STEM knowledge and a 15 percent increase in interest in pursuing a career in a STEM related field.
Max Maller, MBAC’s Sailing Program Assistant, felt that all of the students benefited from the experiential aspect of the program.
“The program was fantastic. The hands-on aspect engaged the students and encouraged them to participate. I can say confidently that each of them had fun and learned something useful.”