In 2012, US Sailing launched “Reach”, a national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
and education initiative to inspire schools and sailing programs to utilize sailing as an educational platform. The WaterFront Center (WFC) of Oyster Bay has been offering sailing and marine science programs since its inception in 2001. WFC began implementing Reach curriculum when they launched STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in the fall of 2013 in partnership with St. Dominic Elementary. The purpose of STEAM is to use the sport of sailing and the marine environment as a context for exploring the principles of STEAM topics such as ‘wind’ and ‘water’. A full-time STEAM Coordinator, Michael Donato, was hired in the spring of 2014 to provide classroom instruction, and oversee the logistics, curriculum development, partnership coordination, and staffing of STEAM programs.
graders (72-73 students) at St. Dominic has been taking part in STEAM for 2 years now and the partnership has become a runaway success. During the 2013-2014 school year, students engaged in 14 sessions per class (7 in the fall, 7 in the spring) exploring the topic ‘Wind’ to learn about measuring wind, simple machines, principles of lift, drag, and airfoils, and to build sustainable energy sources like wind turbines. St. Dominic Elementary stepped up their participation in STEAM for the 2014-2015 school year by adding on 22 classroom sessions per class taught by Mr. Donato at St. Dominic’s. This year, students are exploring the topic ‘Water’ to learn about water quality, marine debris, and underwater exploration, culminating with the construction and testing of R.O.V.s (Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles). The program is seeing rapid growth as Friend’s Academy, Long Island Lutheran Middle School (LuHi), and Success Academy have all signed on for pilot STEAM programs this spring.
Hour Racing, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, has generously granted US Sailing $100,000 to expand the Reach Initiative to enable systemic change in advancing STEM education and protecting the health of our marine environment. This grant has enabled US Sailing to create the 2015 Reach – STEM Education Expansion and Northeast Hub Development Initiative. The initiative plans to create one regional “Reach Hub” at the Community Boating Center: Providence, RI; an “Emerging Hub” at the Downtown Sailing Center: Baltimore, MD; and four “Sub-Hubs”. Due to the success of STEAM, on March 27th
2015 (along with Community Boating Inc.: Boston, MA; New England Science and Sailing, Stonington, CT; and Community Sailing Center: Burlington, VT) the WaterFront Center was designated as a “Reach Sub-Hub”. This designation awards the WFC with a $7500 grant to increase student participation, and establish new youth partnerships. Through the “Reach Hub Network’ US Sailing will provide WFC instructors, and program leadership with professional development, and mentorship to assist with implementing curriculum and building lasting community partnerships.
The WaterFront Center will host a STEAM Exhibit at WFC’s upcoming Bay Day Festival on June 7th
, 2015. The exhibit will feature examples of STEAM activities, an R.O.V. Test Tank where attendees can try their hands at operating an underwater robot, and attend free classes taught by STEAM Instructors.
April 16th, 2015