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WE Collaborate: Build a Boat Program

A sander buzzes as wood shavings fall to the floor. Puffs of steam bend wooden planks. The room bursts with excitement as students flip their creation over for the first time. This is the sound of learning beyond the classroom. This is the sound of collaboration at work. This is the Build a Boat Program, a partnership between Merlo Station High School students and Wind & Oar Boat School.

The program first came to the District in the spring of 2014 in the Aloha High School wood shop. Since then, it has evolved, and found its current home at Merlo Station High School. Students work with their hands to apply their learning. Spending nearly a year for each project, they build either traditional sail, or Whitehall rowing boats. The course offers a rotation of students the opportunity to expand from the traditional classroom and take their learning to greater depths.

Students are able to learn in a unique and hands-on environment, how to apply the necessary skills and knowledge of geometry, drafting, drawing, and woodworking. The course teaches them about orthographic projections, along with land and sea navigation, while earning Math and Applied Arts credit toward their high school diplomas. "The Build a Boat program affords students an opportunity to learn and practice group effective skills, apply math knowledge and skills, and provides a sense of pride and accomplishment in a concrete, finished project.  It is truly bigger than the boat," says Merlo High School Principal Mary Jean Katz.

In the future, class director and CEO of the Wind & Oar Boat School Peter Crim, hopes to expand the course to a full year program, allowing for growth in areas of design and engineering.

During the 2015-2016 school year, students constructed a traditional Whitehall rowing boat, sponsored by Rodger Nielson, COO, Daimler Trucks NA. The boat hit the waters at the Willamette Sailing Club this past summer.