Oregon student-built sailboat continues journey to Japan

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Students from Scapoose, Oregon, launched the boat in December as part of an educational project sponsored by the Columbia River Museum.

SITKA, Alaska – A miniature sailboat built by sixth-graders from Oregon has been put back to sea to continue its voyage to Japan after being stranded near Sitka, Alaska.

An Alaskan fisherman discovered the boat in late February and contacted teachers at Sitka schools, which prompted students at Blatchley Middle School to participate in the international project, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.

Students from Otto Peterson Elementary School in Scapoose, Oregon, launched the boat in December as part of an educational project sponsored by the Columbia River Museum.

Oregon students built 10 fiberglass ships equipped with sails and GPS tracking devices. Half of the 5-foot boats were transported to Japan to three partner schools in Aomori Prefecture where the ships were deployed.

The project aims to teach students from both countries about ocean currents and different cultures as boats cross the Pacific Ocean.

After learning about the boat, Sitka science teacher Stacy Golden said she jumped at the chance to engage her class. The Columbia River Museum’s education director then traveled to Sitka to explain the project to the students and help prepare the boat for its next trip.

Golden said the Sitka students dried the boat, fixed the keel, and made some cosmetic upgrades. The boat was launched from Alaska on Wednesday and is now at the mercy of wind and ocean currents to reach its destination.

“Suddenly they feel like they’re part of something bigger,” Golden said of his students.


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