Students learning STEM through Sailing - Combining Classroom Techniques with Kinetic Stimulation to Convey Environmental and Physical Concepts

Khari Parrish, Hampton University, Marine and Environmental Science, Hampton, VA, United States
Youth Sailing Virginia Inc. is a 501© 3 non-profit organization, located on the banks of Mill Creek, Fort Monroe, Hampton VA. The goal of the organization is to further develop the (youth) sailing community of Hampton Virginia through academic instruction, environmental awareness, and interactive learning. All methods utilize varying degrees of kinetic stimulation to aid the student in scaffolding knowledge in order to comfortably and properly handle a dinghy sailboat. While campers are out at sail, they must rely on the knowledge they gain both in the classroom and in their environment to understand how to operate a sailboat as well as factors which may influence performance and handling. The program aims to create and educate young stewards of the environment as well as introduce students to experiences

The program uses varying combinations of interactive and classroom techniques to introduce STEM concepts which campers can build upon with the guidance of instructors to further understand both their environment and boat. The program’s STEM curriculum spans a variety of subjects including math, physics, engineering, biology and chemistry. Throughout the two-week period, students build their understanding of the forces which influence a sailboats performance; including wind, buoyancy, center of balance & effort, etc. In addition to the forces that determine a vessels performance, the programs curriculum focuses on technical applications used to efficiently handle vessels under sail. Technical applications such as the influence sail size, point of sail, and simple machines may have on boat speed relative to wind are taught using basic math and physics concepts. While on the water, students focus on their surrounding environment, drawing connections between environmental quality, local flora and fauna.