Environmentalists Adrift

We are building dorys, studying the ecological impacts humans have had on ocean environments, and making short documentary films

Photo of John Santos
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     Next semester we will build Swampscott Dory boats, conduct environmental and biological surveys, produce documentary films, curate interviews that explore and describe the impact that boats have had on ocean environments.  Students will be spend their class days between planning, cutting and building boats, researching environmental impacts humans have had on ocean environments, connect with and interviewing professionals connected to their specific area of study, making short documentary films focussing on the issues, and looking at the entrepreneurial aspects of boats building.  We will use our hands, hearts and minds daily.

     An obvious and huge part of the project involves the hands on aspect of making a fully functional boat from scratch.  It insists on careful planning, communication, and precision with a wide variety of tools and equipment.  A separate component will be getting students out on the water to for biological surveys and measurements or water quality.

     Students will learn about all of the technical aspects involved in storyboarding , filming, editing and arranging short documentary films aimed at communicating the  purpose and process of the project.

     They will develop a stronger ability to research topics in great detail and understand what is at the root of the issues and propose solutions to problematic environmental issues facing our global community. They will also have the opportunity to connect with professionals who focus on their environmental issues as their field and incorporate their interviews into articles to be published.

     We plan to exhibit the boats, documentaries, articles and our learning to the San Diego community at the Maritime Museum along the waterfront where students will be able to talk about their learning experiences.

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Photo of Erin Quinn

I wanted to share this documentary with you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tLB1lU-H0M

It's called Children Full of Life. It's about a Japanese teacher, Mr. Kanamori, and his grade 4 class. It's tangentially related in that they build boats, and they go about it in a truly problem-solving kind of approach. But it's really just a beautiful film about a teacher who loves his students deeply. :) Which might be well needed on this day after the election.

Photo of John Santos

Thanks for the comment Scott!  It seems that focussing on issues that are local allows for greater student connection to the work.  Issues are more tangible, accessible and real for students.

Photo of Scott Lewis

Sounds like a great project for communities located near the ocean. Having students do some research on environmental problems caused by the boating industry is a good focus, here's one piece on some of the problems associated with the cruise lines (being located in South Florida, we see stories from time to time about pollution associated with the big cruise industry here) - - http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2013/03/articles/social-media-1/cruise-shipping-miami-6-problems-the-cruise-industry-needs-to-fix/

Photo of Erin Quinn

What an interesting idea! This reminds me of the Tinkering School's boat project (http://www.tinkeringschool.com/overnight-camp-blog/2014/07/04/day-five-today-we-float-tomorrow-we-boat). 

What I think would be fascinating is engaging students in the design process of building a boat, not just the building process. They could talk to ship building experts to do research, and engage these people again to give feedback as they work their way through the design process.

Photo of John Santos

WOW!!!!  What a great project!  Thanks for Sharing Erin.  Our school is based in San Diego and we are partnered with the Maritime Museum who has been incredibly supportive in freeing up some boat builders who have given their time and advice to helping us with our boat build.