SEARSPORT — Two new wooden boats will be launched at noon Friday, May 20, at the Searsport town dock. But while boat launchings often are a cause for celebration, this one also will represent the successful completion of a semester-long science course for seven students from Searsport District High School.
Since January, students Holly Hassapelis, Derrik Kenney, Alex Lane, Emily LaRosa, Jason Pendleton, Shane Sauer and Rebecca Trimble have been working with master boatbuilder Greg Rossel of Troy to build two shellback dinghies at Penobscot Marine Museum.
The project was the result of a collaboration between the museum and the high school designed to teach physical science by providing students with firsthand exposure to boat-related concepts such as center of effort, buoyancy, vectors and drag.
Science teacher Michelle Andre accompanied the students during much of their shop time, making sure that they met physical science standards through a combination of hands-on and traditional learning activities.
Additional boatbuilding assistance was provided by community volunteers Fred Kirchais, Dave Lawrence and Rick Fitzsimmons.
The museum provided work space, tools and administrative support. The project was funded primarily by a grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation, with additional assistance from the Traditional Small Craft Association’s John Gardner Fund.
The public is invited to attend the May 20 launch to congratulate the students and get a look at the finely crafted boats. The boats will remain at the dock for a few weeks, giving the students a chance to try out their creations on the water.
The dinghies then will return to Penobscot Marine Museum, where they will be placed on display and advertised for sale at $3,500 each, including oars and sailing rigs.
Proceeds will go to fund the program next year, when the project will incorporate academic credit in mathematics as well as science.
“It’s a bargain for a nicely finished, handcrafted wooden boat,” Rossel said.
For more information about the boats or the educational program, call Searsport District High School Principal Brian Campbell at 548-2313.