I’m fortunate to teach in a school that supports its teachers and their
crazy innovative ideas. In just one short week, I’ll be launching a new class that combines language and applied arts as students work together to build four Shellback dinghies. The course? Nautical Arts.
Here’s a brief description of the course (something school administrators require when you come up with a crazy idea and they want it formalized):
Nautical Arts provides an innovative, exciting, and unique synthesis of language arts and a practical, hands-on approach to learning as students work in groups to build – from the keel up – an attractive and functional sailing dinghy. Emphasizing teamwork, short- and long-term planning, project management, writing and documentation via an online blog, construction skills and techniques, and – of course – developing an appreciation for great nautical texts, the course has at its core a service component: the students’ completed project boats will be auctioned, and the proceeds will be donated to a local charity.
I am thrilled to have the chance to pursue a project like this, but at the same time I’m more than a bit apprehensive because, according to builder Eric Dow, it takes “an experienced builder 100 hours,” and I’m dealing with 16 inexperienced builders and 50-minute class periods. I did a bit of quick English-teacher math that looks like this: four students times 60 hrs = 240 hrs of labor. Figure a 50% rate of efficiency, and we’re coming in at 120 hrs of labor. Close. Hopefully, close enough! We do have some after-school hours and Friday afternoons that we can take advantage of if we need a few extra hours to get the job done.
In the meantime, I’m planning on soliciting some support from local businesses during the week. Really, I think this is a great opportunity not only for our kids but also for the community to get involved and give back through a cool project. I’m hoping I can get some strong support. I spent a bit of Christmas break putting together some informational sheets that I can take around to local businesses to pitch the idea. Fingers crossed.
The plan for the rest of this week is to build at least one ladder frame – the “jig” for the rest of the boat’s construction – and to create patterns for the major components. It’s going to be a busy end to 2015 and a crazy start to 2016! Wish me (us) luck. And if you’re interested in helping sponsor the project, drop me an email or message through this site. Happy New Year!