Unmanned Mini-Sailboat Connects Two Far-Flung Schools

Unmanned Mini-Sailboat Connects Two Far-Flung Schools

In June 2016, Kent School (MD) launched an unmanned 5-foot sailboat and time capsule equipped with GPS so students could track its progress across the Atlantic Ocean.

The vessel, named the Osprey after the school’s mascot, launched from New Jersey with the help of Educational Passages, a nonprofit dedicated to hands-on multidisciplinary experiences, and members of the Kent School Parents, Teachers, and Friends Association. Educational Passages uses the mini-sailboats to study ocean currents andwind patterns. The boats can sail directly downwind for months while students learn about map reading, oceanography, geography, and, in this case, international relations.

As the 2016­–2017 academic year began and students tracked the Osprey’s progress, the mini-sailboat made landfall on a sandy beach in Tenby, a seaside town in Pembrokeshire, Wales. A hiker walking along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path found the boat in perfect condition and posted a photo to the Kent School Facebook page. A second beach visitor posted that he had found the boat’s time capsule. Then, a third person carried the Osprey to Ysgol Greenhill School, a school with 1,000 students ages 11–18 in Tenby.

Thanks to Skype, the Kent School community watched live as Jan Kingston, the head teacher of Greenhill School, and her students opened the boat’s time capsule. They learned about Kent through the school’s magazine, The Osprey Outlook, and other publications that had remained perfectly dry in the sailboat’s capsule. In a lovely coincidence, an aunt of two Kent School students lives in Wales, and she traveled to Greenhill School for the presentation.

The Greenhill School will work with Educational Passages to relaunch the mini-sailboat in 2017, and both schools will track its continued progress over the seas.