A Place Where Schools and Shorelines Meet

by MacKenzie McGuckin

The WaterFront Center started off the field trip season with a US Sailing Reach lesson on buoyancy and an afternoon sailing with an 8th grade math class from the United Nations International School (UNIS). Students from UNIS are committed to the spirit of the UN Charter, fostering historic and contemporary knowledge of the world world around them . Yet, these students, who have lived in a harbor city with over 575 miles of shoreline, have had very little interaction with it.
That situation is where the hands-on learning and place-based education from The WaterFront Center’s unique programs can provide a supplement to any school’s curriculum. UNIS students investigated the concepts of buoyancy, density, and water displacement during the lesson provided both in a classroom setting and, on the water aboard our fleet of sonars.
In the classroom, students predicted whether an object would sink or float when placed in salt and fresh water, identified factors that affect the ability of an object to float, and learned the relationship between buoyancy and density. Students had an opportunity to create a boat out of the object so it would float and then carry the largest load of washers possible.
Students designed, tested, and shared the best designs with the class and determined the characteristics about the designs that allowed them to carry a heavier load or more weight. In addition, with the help of our Sailing Director, MacKenzie, students covered topics such as Archimedes Principle, gravity, weight, mass, displacement, buoyancy, density, center of gravity, weather helm, lee helm, and more.
On the water, students were introduced to concepts like the Center of Lateral Resistance and Center of Effort. Aboard Sonars, our sailing instructors related pressure placed on the sails by the wind to the pressure pushing up on the boat by the water. Students were able to identify that balancing the two combined with good weight distribution in the boat resulted in fast sailing. The sailboat is a reference point or tool students use to adhere what they learned in the classroom.
When schools bring their classes to The WaterFront Center, whether it is based off STEM, Sailing, or Marine Education curriculum, the hands-on training is beneficial when learning new or reinforcing previously learned skills and knowledge. Real life application not only is a proven method of solidifying a child’s knowledge, it alsocreates lasting memories and enhances their life experiences.