Community Boat Building
Pictured above, students went to Northeastern University to examine their water samples.
5th Grade Marine Science Program a Proven Success!
For the past ten years, Community Boat Building (CBB) has been providing experiential learning opportunities for students at underperforming schools in the Boston Public School system. Their core boat building program is a proven model that uses boat building to excite 4th and 5th graders on crucial subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math. This year, with the support of 11th Hour Racing’s grant, they expanded their marine science program with a floating salt marsh and a water quality testing program. These projects were part of a full year program that also includes, boat building, an oral history project, and swimming lessons.
Water Quality Testing
The entire 5th grade class of partner school, Young Achievers, consisting of 41 students participated in the marine science curriculum. Students measured temperature, salinity, turbidity, pH and tide cycles, along with tracking native and invasive species. This work was done both on the dock and on the water, which offers students the opportunity to practice their rowing skills and test out the boats their peers have built. The culmination of the Water Quality Testing program is when the students head to Northeastern University to analyze the samples they collected from Fort Point Channel with Professor Loretta Fernandez. Lab coats were donned, and they get to tour the University’s Lab, checking out the machines that will test their hard-earned samples – no doubt this is a great way to inspire kids to study in STEM fields. The student’s filled out science journals throughout their program to document their findings and track their progress, recording what they learned.
Floating Salt Marsh
New in 2018 – CBB started an exciting project with students to create floating wetlands in an urban environment. Salt marshes and wetlands are crucial to filter pollutants, providing habitat to animals, along with reducing flooding, and reducing erosion. With salt marshes and wetlands often filled in to create space for buildings or airports in cities, creating small floating marshes with native plants allows for some of the benefits to be regained in a small area.
Students took the lead on the project, mapping out where to plant different types of marsh grass plants. Next, students planted marsh grass, suspending the plants between two pontoons. Students monitored the marsh by taking measurements of the plants as they grew, like many experiments, it took a few plantings to get things right. Several trials with planting materials were needed to get the seagrass growing correctly, and the third planting attempt has been the charm – a learning lesson for students and staff together. This salt marsh is also used as a conversation piece to discuss the concepts of wildlife nurseries, carbon sequestration, and storm buffering, which are all essential functions of larger marshes.
Due to the success of CBS’s 5th grade, Marine Science programming and discussions facilitated by CBB’s Teachers’ Summer Learning Institute, CBB is planning to expand their marine science curriculum to the 6th grade next year!
All photos provided by Community Boat Building.