On Saturday, September 21, 2019, students from Wye River Upper School competed in Washington College’s annual Cardboard Boat Regatta. The two teams of students from Wye River were the only school teams to compete other than those from Washington College itself. In the end, judging officials awarded Wye River Upper School’s students the Linda Greenlaw Award for Team Spirit, celebrating positive outlook and peer collaboration.
The teams of students were led by Wye River Upper School educator Karen Gilbert. Ms. Gilbert guided the students through a month-long cardboard boat project-based learning process that engaged the student teams in critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, and engineering fundamentals. In addition to the materials requirements of Washington College, student boats closely aligned with curricular goals. Students were asked to design boats in the style of a vessel that has traditionally traveled the Bay. Students engaged in historical research and decided to construct a log canoe and a schooner. The student teams produced two cardboard boats aptly named the “S.S. Water Log” and “Schooner Than Later.” In tying the challenge of constructing a boat to a historical reference, students engaged with Next Generation Standards that encourage authentic inquiry and real-world application.
According to Jay, a 9th-grade student from Millington, “We created a plan to make a log canoe boat and a boat like a schooner. We learned that even if it floats that doesn’t mean it will stay floating. I can still be unbalanced. We needed a wider boat. We capsized several times. We kept trying, though.” Jay teamed with Douglas of Kent County, Daniel of Middletown, Bennett and Lizzie of Queen Anne’s County, and Tyler of Anne Arundel County.
The cardboard boat project occurred as a component of Ms. Gilbert’s History and Culture of the Chesapeake class, a new addition to Wye River Upper School’s class offerings. Ms. Gilbert brings years of boating expertise to this curriculum, including Coast Guard Six Pack Certification, U.S. Sailing Certification, and Red Cross CPR and lifeguard certifications and runs the sailing program at Camp Pecometh.
Wye River Upper School is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is focused on students who learn differently discovering through innovation, developing with rigor, and celebrating their strengths while preparing for success in college, career, and life.