Experiential sail-based STEM programs launched by the Treasure Island Sailing Center in 2013 and Sail Newport in 2017 are transforming the learning experience, respect for mother nature and the lives of 4th graders in California and Rhode Island.
The TISC Set Sail Learn (SSL) STEM program has now passed the 6K “smiles” milestone. Since the inception of the program in the Fall of 2013, 6,172 students from 46 schools representing all 11 San Francisco Unified School Districts have attended 240 classes on Clipper Cove. At Sail Newport’s new Marine Education and Recreation Center, 178 students from Pell Elementary School’s eight 4th grade classes have a few more weeks of “class” before their summer break. Each week, in September & October then again in May & June, Monday through Thursday, two of the eight 4th grade classes spends an hour on J/22 sailboats on Brenton Cove and an hour in the Marine Education and Recreation Center.
As we were launching Skipper’s Gift at Sail Newport, the first wave of Pell students was returning to the docks aboard J/22’s, the captain’s choice in Newport Harbor. How can you not get psyched about sailing on Brenton Cove!
LOOK CAREFULLY -those two cranes in the background were dismantling the super-successful One Ocean Exploration Zone during the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover. One of the exhibits included the US Sailing Reach Initiative (more below).
While different in scope and approach, both programs create smiles, environmental ambassadors and kids in tune with the sciences via hand’s ON (the tiller) and hands IN (the water) programs tied directly to their respective accredited classroom studies. These are not field trips; they are legit school days aboard classrooms that tack and gybe!
The last day of Spring ’18 SSL classes on Clipper Cove was May 21st, Ms. Roach’s McKinely Elementary class studied Ecology of the Bay. Many topics were covered (experienced !) as shown in the photos below!
“Ms Pilar” leads the class in a game of “Ecology – air, food and housing” before delivering a chalk talk and gets into explaining the use of histograms. Did someone mention data creation, sampling and analysis?
Identifying male/female crabs is part of the day’s study.
Workbooks, along with lesson plans to go with them, are provided by TISC in advance of SSL classes and are kept by the kids for post-trip follow-up.
Observations often require watching closely.
Set sail learn classes are taught in two groups. One in the learning center and one on Clipper Cove. The kids switch after lunch.
Safety first on the water begins with lifejackets.
Clipper Cove is bounded on three sides by land and protected from the strong San Francisco Bay wind and waves by a causeway that connects Treasure Island to Yerba Buena Island. A perfect environment (the only one like it in all of San Francisco Bay) for learning about ecology, wind power and marine history.
Kids smiles on the water don’t need much explanation. On Clipper Cove students sail either J/24’s on windy days or RS Ventures on gentler days.
6,172 SSL students have attended SSL classes at TISC since its inception in the Fall of 2013. Kudos to St. Francis Sailing Foundation for their on-going support beginning in October, 2015 ( read more about their grant HERE).
During this most recent Spring 2018 session, 646 children from 17 schools attended 28 classes, mixing time in our learning center with on-the-water sailing.
Transcontinental STEM – for sure, with programs from east coast to west coast and thanks to US Sailing a couple dozen in between.
Transformational – yes again. Here’s one recent story about conquering fears: “The Power of the Wind ? – – – Life Changing“.
And many more from kids themselves “I am crabby, day had to end”, “Best field trip ever”, “On a scale from 1-10 – 1,000,000”. And from teachers on both coasts who have seen kids living so close to the water in Newport and San Francisco, but were never able to touch the water, feel the wind on their face, and certainly not had the chance to sail – until their experience at Sail Newport or TISC.
Regards from On The Cove, Dave G.
In the wake:
You can read about REACH – a USSAILING STEM-based program no underway at dozens of sailing centers across the US to inspire sailing programs and schools to utilize sailing as a teaching platform.
And In case you missed the TISC June newsletter, you can read about it here.