Searsport High School Students Turned Boat Builders 

Some Searsport high school students are taking their turns as boat builders. It’s part of a hands-on lesson plan designed to help kids better understand science. For senior Holly Hessapelis, the time at the Penobscot Marine Museum is not a break from class – it is class. “It’s a lot of hands on and wood working, working with epoxy and mixing certain chemicals – a lot of mathematics and science.”She and her fellow students are building a boat as part of a new program between the high school and the museum. Even though the students are learning how a craft comes together, boatbuilder Greg Rossel says that’s not the actual point of the class. “In the process of boatbuilding, you’re constantly using sciences – whether it’s chemistry or physics or mathematics. There’s all the geometry that’s put together – you’re doing applied physics.”Betty Schopmeyer with the museum says class is also designed to connect the kids to Maine’s maritime history. “We hope that students will think about that too as they’re going along. They’re building a small boat here and some of their family and ancestors probably built boats that were a couple of hundred feet long, not so far from this spot.”The students started working on two dinghies in January. When they’re finished, they’ll look much like this. Science teacher Michelle Andre expects the students will learn some invaluable lessons. “Just seeing the kids excited about coming to school and coming to the program has been really wonderful. The fact that they love being here and building the boats, i think that translates into the classroom for when we actually talk about the science concepts behind it.”Right now the plan is to auction off the finished boats to help pay for the program and keep it going next year.