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Gateway Sets Sail

July 11, 2012

In June 2012, sixth-graders from one of the Museum of Science's Gateway Project school districts designed, built, and launched three sailboats on Scargo Lake in Dennis, Mass. Their final exam involved boarding and sailing their vessels.

"The Gateway Project helps school districts, like Dennis-Yarmouth, develop strategic action plans to implement engaging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs," says Yvonne Spicer, Museum vice president for advocacy and educational partnerships and Gateway director. "This project is a wonderful example of using engineering ideas and skills."

According to a story on the Wicked Local Dennis website, Wixon Middle Level Academy math and science teacher Lee Hanscom introduced the idea of incorporating STEM for sixth-graders through designing and building real sailboats they would test by sailing.

After using their writing skills to raise over $4,400 for boatbuilding supplies, students worked in teams to design their boats, drafting the lines onto paper templates and then moving to plywood, working with squares and measurements to draw lines they cut to make the pieces for their boats. As grownups worked with power tools, students sanded and planed, then painted hulls, rigged out sails and added hardware.

Wearing life vests, the sixth-graders finally took turns handling their boats. Anna Bach told Wicked Local Dennis's Nicole Muller, "I never built a boat before, so I didn't know what you needed and how precise you have to be." Another student said, "We used all our subjects and focused together on a common goal."

This July, more than 40 educators, administrators, and department heads from eight new districts are attending Gateway Institutes at the Museum of Science, Boston: Abington, Ashland, Bourne, Duxbury, Holbrook, Millis, Swansea, and Winthrop.

Created in 2005 by the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®, Gateway is unique in guiding STEM-based educational reform through district-wide systemic change, introducing educators to resources supporting standards-based curricula and assessments. Now replicated as a model in Maine and Texas, the Gateway community has involved 78 Mass. districts and 400 K-12 educational leaders. For more information: (617-589-3100).

Related Links

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500