A miniature boat made by middle-school children in New Hampshire washed ashore on the Norwegian island of Smøla. The 5.5 feet boat traveled over 8,000 miles across the Atlantic to make its way to the Scandinavian country. After its long and perilous journey, the little boat was still intact, despite losing its hull, mast and keel.
The project was a collaboration between Rye Junior High and Educational Passages, a nonprofit organization based in Maine that teaches children about the ocean. The nonprofit sent out the dismantled kit boat to the school, and the children built the sailboat in their teacher Sheila Adams’ science class.
“This project tapped into so much more than the science curriculum,” Ms. Adams said. “The students needed to use their writing skills to inform others about their miniboat project, describe our school and town to people of other languages, just in case, and write requests to get the boat deployed.’
The boat was ready to be decorated, and then Covid hit, forcing Ms Adams to be creative.
Students couldn’t decorate the boat in person, so instead sent their teacher artwork, which was scanned, printed, and laminated before being stuck to the boat’s deck as a collage.
Next, they tried to find a bigger ship that would take their miniature one out to sea beyond the Gulf of Maine, from where it would be deployed. At the same time, the class that started the project moved up a grade, and the new 5th grade class became involved with the project. The new class put messages in the boat, and chose the colours for the bottom of the boat. Ms Adams put photos of her class in the boat, a facemask with their signatures, fall leaves, acorns and state quarters.
Eventually the class found a group to launch their boat and teamed up with the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The SEA had their own vessel, SSV Corwith Cramer, and launched the students’ ship, named the Rye Riptides off the coast of Florida.
The ship was fitted with a GPS tracker to navigate its journey across the seas. The GPS pinged its locations on its 8,000 mile journey. It even went quiet for several months during hurricane season, and was last heard of on September 30 2021, until four months later when it arrived in Norway.
After the boat washed up on the island of Smøla, which is an uninhabited island, Educational Passages contacted a close-by school to pick up the boat. Student, Karel Nuncic, and his family picked up the boat. They cleaned off the barnacles that adorned it, and he took it to school the next day, where he and his classmates read the messages.
The New Hampshire and Norwegian children later met over Zoom, brought together by the ship that spent over a year at sea.