Vancouver middle schoolers boat launched from Japan makes it the farthest of any mini-boat to date
VANCOUVER — It’s official: on Valentine’s Day 2020, a miniature sailing boat built by middle school students at Wy’east Middle School in Vancouver and then sent to their sister school in Japan, has crossed the international date line on its journey across the Pacific Ocean.
The S/V KIZUNA GOU, has traveled 3,023 nautical miles in its 77 days at sea. This is the first boat sailing from Japan to the United States to make it this far in all the years of the Mini-boat program from the Columbia River Maritime Museum (CRMM).
“Such an amazing feat! Something kids built in two countries crossed the middle of the ocean!” said Wy’east science teacher, Joe Boken, on Facebook. Boken brought the CRMM program to his students and school last year.
Students at Tanesashi Elementary School in Japan launched the mini-boat back in the fall of 2019, and have been monitoring its travels via GPS ever since. Wy’east students also made their own boat, S/V Liberty, which is set to be launched off the coast of Oregon tomorrow.
The Mini-boat program at CRMM has been running since 2017, and has the mission of teaching students about sailing, oceanography, cultures and teamwork. Each class that participates construct a five-foot-long sailboat, and then outfits it with GPS and solar panels.
“When you give students an opportunity, and you give them high expectations, they almost always rise to the occasion,” CRMM Education Director, Nate Sandel previously told ClarkCountyToday.com. “We were really thinking of how can we engage every type of learner in the classroom? So, do you like to build boats and work with antifouling paint and epoxy, there’s a job for you. If you want nothing to do with anything messy, and you want to get behind the computer and study the science of weather, then there is a job for you. And if you love making videos for YouTube, you could be on our documentarian team, which documented every single step of the process. So by that, we’re finding a spot for every student.”
If all goes well, the S/V KIZUNA GOU could reach the U.S. this summer, in which case it would be the first mini-boat in the program’s three year history to do so.
In the next couple weeks, the Wy’east student who constructed the mini-boat prior to its launch in Japan, will receive official certificates from Sandel. The certificates are the very same ones awarded to sailors in the Navy and Coast Guard when they cross the international dateline for the first time.
“I’m always looking for opportunities for my students to engage in science and have opportunities to do things that they can say, ‘Hey, that’s cool, I did that,’” Boken told ClarkCountyToday.com. “They’re interacting with a culture that for most of them, they maybe would never interact with, never learn about, never have that opportunity to be able to say, ‘I worked on a project with students from Japan.’”
To watch the path of each CRMM mini-boat live, visit the Google Earth GPS page. To find out more about the CRMM Mini-boat Program and see more photos and videos of launches and the Mini-boat Summits, visit the program’s Facebook page.