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Classroom Spotlight: Nathan Hale Arts Magnet Elementary

Our donor sponsored classroom at Nathan Hale Arts Magnet Elementary School in New London has had a very busy start to the school year! The students in fifth grade have been learning all about principles of sailing and even got to go on a field trip to New London Community Boating (NLCB) at Greens Harbor!

James Harrington and Tiffany Gauthier, two NESS SEA AmeriCorps members who work consistently at Nathan Hale, have been teaching their students all about boats and how different properties of physics allow boats to float and move on the water. James and Tiffany chose this topic to tie into the students’ curriculum unit of “Force and Motion” and “Balance of Forces.” At NESS, our educators use US Sailing REACH curriculum principles which is a curriculum that helps teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles through the unique platform of sailing.

The students learned about key topics and vocabulary words such as force, motion, push, pull, friction, and buoyancy. They then used their understanding of these principles and terms by building boats using materials like tin foil, popsicle sticks, and paper. The fifth graders then tested these boats out on the water and even added “wind” by blowing a fan on the water to have some sailboat races! After the experiment, students debriefed by discussing what designs worked best and why, and how important it is to keep the forces in mind when designing a boat.

NLCB Field Trip

Throughout the month of October, the fifth-grade classes from Nathan Hale took their classroom learning to the outdoors for field trips to NLCB. It was experiential learning at its finest! Throughout the field trip, the students got to experience an introduction to sailing. The students rotate through three stations: land sailor model, intro to sculling, and intro to sailing. At the land sailor model, the students were introduced to how the tiller and the sail work together to tack and gybe. One pair of students at a time sat in the Opti Trainer, one as the skipper and the other controlling the sails. The educator held onto the mast and imitated how wind moves the sail as the boat rotates on a wooden platform.

At the sculling station, students were taught how to safely get in and out of the sailboat, as well as where to sit and how to hold the tiller and the main sheet. The students then got their turn to scull around a green buoy and back to the dock to get used to being in the boat and understanding the basics of turning. The land sailor and the sculling demo were brought together with the final station: sailing! The students tried out an oval course from the dock to the buoy with sails up. The culmination of all they had learned in the classroom and throughout the field trip merged in this moment.

You could see the excitement in the students’ faces as they were determined to sail around the buoy with their partners. It’s amazing to see how our partnership with schools can really influence students’ academic experiences. At many of our schools, such as Nathan Hale, our AmeriCorps members are at the school full time during the school week. Not only can they help support classrooms and needs of students, but they also design and teach lessons for enrichment programs during the school day. NESS is so happy to be a staple of the New London community and getting students out on the water, even during the school day!