Dockside event connects curriculum, maritime skills

BRES takes field trip to schooner Bowdoin
Wed, 05/29/2024 - 12:45pm

Knots weren’t the only ties made at an event celebrating a 5,000-mile voyage to the Arctic. May 28, the crew of the schooner Bowdoin invited hundreds of students from Boothbay Region Elementary School (BRES) to Carousel Marina for a field trip to learn about maritime skills and history on the eve of their departure for Greenland. According to educators, the event helped teachers tie real-world lessons to their curriculums while broadening students’ minds to unique career paths.

Bowdoin was built in 1921 by Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard in East Boothbay to work in the Arctic. Now, Captain Alexander Peacock wants to help inspire the next generation of mariners and engineers by demonstrating alternative options for college. Peacock and the 16-person crew of the ship are all MMA staff and students, and MMA owns and operates the vessel primarily for education. The school offers degrees in marine-based subjects including engineering, science, management and transportation,

“You never know what kind of impact this is going to have getting them hands-on with the line and seeing the ship,” he said. “You don't know how that's going to inspire and what kind of seed that plants. But I think it's such an important thing.” 

The crew led children in several nautical activities, teaching them about line throwing, knot tying, sailing charts, burgees and the ship itself.

BRES Principal Shawna Kurr said the field trip, which included all BRES grades, is an opportunity to connect local culture with curriculum. She said teachers can tie the activities back to classroom lessons about environmental and natural sciences, social sciences, and history, fulfilling educational mandates in meaningful ways.  

“Any learning opportunity that we can engage in here in our own community really brings a sense of place to this community where we live and learn in every single day,” she said. She later added, “Engaging in things outside of the classroom, (and) tying them into the curriculum and the classroom – kids remember this for a lifetime.” 

At the event, MMA also celebrated a $50,000 grant from L.L.Bean in support of the voyage. According to the company, L.L.Bean has been an early supporter of the ship’s Arctic expeditions since outfitting its first skipper, Donald MacMillan, with Bean boots in 1921. As the crew loaded boxes of potatoes and canned goods behind her, MMA Vice President of Advancement & College Relations Kate Noel said the new funds helped provide supplies and staff support for the upcoming voyage.

Noel said MMA has eyes on the future and hopes the funds will help continue the program, while events like these inspire more children to think about alternative college paths, such as MMA. She said she was excited to see the children and community come out to support Bowdoin and the opportunities it can offer.  

“I think it's important for young people to know from a very early age that a successful life can take many forms and that the list of jobs in the world is long,” she said. “The more we can expose students to things that are maybe outside of the box of their normal academic experience, the more successful we are as a community.”