It was a bright and breezy April afternoon – auspicious weather conditions for the launch of the Orange Band’s own cardboard boats!
There is a romance and kind of magic, it feels, inherent in our explorations By Sea. Even when collaborators brainstormed the many interactions with the sea and the things it moves before the arc began, I don’t think that any of us anticipated the just how captivating it would be to go out on the water. Thanks to our proximity to the ocean, bay, and lakes, we have been able to experience being on the water no less than FIVE times – in such a myriad of ways! From rowboats in the bay (and just beyond), to massive ferries, four mast turn of the century shipping boats, and sail boats, the Orange Band’s logical progression has been to build and launch their own boats. Naturally!
This boat building project – so close to the start of the year’s last expression portion (Coincidence? Perhaps not!) was much more than *just* another build. The road (waterway?) to the successful paddles was marked with challenges and opportunities to stretch the kiddos, individually and as a group!
The challenge began as an individual boat prototype build on a small scale. Throughout the year, kiddos have been honing this skill – and the Orange Band tackled this task with comfort and ease, each student creating their own model, a testament to their practice and capability with their tools: cardboard, rulers, and boxcutters. Essential to the work was their familiarity with the crafts they have been on throughout the arc; the days spent on the water allowed for so much time interacting with and analyzing boat design and structure. As such, there was a good amount of variety found among the prototypes.
Next, students voted on the designs they felt would be the most successful. Using this criteria helps to get the kiddos in the project mindset – and feel confident about getting into the boats, themselves!
With the boat designs narrowed down to two choices, the Orange Band began construction in teams on Monday. We had a scheduled boat launch set for Thursday afternoon- and an impromptu field trip on the Bay popped up on Tuesday.
The clock was ticking for the teams, underscored by the ongoing fear of actually getting into the boats. Sailors were hard to come by as worries of getting dunked in the lake or eaten alive by snapping turtles flew around the shop.
This three day work was when, in truth, the *real* work began. That is, tackling a build that was going to be put to the test in the world, under real time constraints, in a group project setting! Students were challenged to hone their communication skills, practice delegating tasks, and being flexible on the fly – all tall orders, to be sure. Each day of construction ended with more than a few worries about whether the boats would be ready in time – or ready to float!
But this is Brightworks! Come Thursday morning, both crafts were duct taped and wrapped in plastic – ready for the waters of Stow Lake. Not surprising, with the excitement of the actual launch at our fingertips, sailors suddenly came from left and right, clamoring to hop in! Anticipation was high when our first sailor stepped a shaky foot into her team’s boat. Families, puppies, and the meandering park goer alike cheered as the craft pushed off to great success!
And what a success! Both boats went out for multiple voyages on the lake, steering around the intrigued paddle boats and navigating the flow of the lake, and the occasional wind gust.
We left the lake that afternoon back to Brightworks with full hearts, high on the triumph of the students’ hard work. It was a magical afternoon – just the kind of day that will resonate in the kiddos’ minds as they gear up for their next, and last, project experiences of this year.