Miniboats Help Students Learn About the Atlantic: Our Shared Resource

AORA Boat 1Imagine being part of a class that builds, decorates, and launches a miniature sailboat that can be tracked on the Internet as it sails the ocean currents around the entire Atlantic Ocean! The 2016 Atlantic Miniboat Regatta “Around the Atlantic - Our Shared Resource” is a coordinated effort between Educational Passages, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) and other professional marine organisations and institutions in support of 22 elementary, middle, and high schools from eight countries where students are doing just that. Students will track their miniature sailboats, powered solely by wind and ocean currents, on a transatlantic course using the Educational Passages website. Educators will take advantage of the on-site teaching tools addressing Earth and ocean science, meteorology, naval architecture and other cultural topics.

The majority of the miniboats are expected to follow historic sailing routes. U.S.-launched boats will take the northern route “up and east” towards Europe. European-launched boats will sail “south and west” into the Caribbean and (hopefully) continue to South America. Most miniboats will make landfall several times on their way. Using GPS position reports, participants will be able to watch their boat’s progress and coordinate recovery efforts by identifying partner schools as the miniboats approach coasts before they are threatened by watery obstacles. Working closely with the EU-funded Sea Change Project, rescued miniboats will be taken to local partner schools where learning and international relations ensue. Once recovered, arrangements will be made for miniboat repairs and re-launching, with messages and other items added to the watertight compartment to be discovered at the next site of recovery. Whether recovered or not, it is expected that the majority of the miniboats will eventually sail back to their launching point. The program promotes understanding of the Atlantic Ocean as a shared resource through ocean literacy.

The goals of the “Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource” Regatta are threefold: 1) to provide STEM learning opportunities to students of all ages as their sailing miniboats circle the Atlantic, 2) to engage in collaborative learning through international cultural experiences and 3) to increase student and citizen understanding of the value of the Atlantic as a shared resource. Educational Partnership partners include the School of Ocean Technology, Newfoundland; Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium; Maine Maritime Academy; University of Maine, Marine Science School; The College of Exploration, Virginia; PLOCAN Platform Ocean Research Center in Canarias; Washington College, Maryland; Evolution Sails; and Ships of Opportunity. To learn how you can participate in Educational Passages and its regattas, contact Richard Baldwin at

AORA Boat 3  AORA Boat 2

Caption:  Miniboat Shields Surfer sponsored by the Shields Elementary School PTO set sail December 13, 2016, from Philadelphia after being launched from the cargo ship Frisia Bonn outside the Gulf Stream after leaving Delaware Bay.  Follow along at Image courtesy J. S. Griffin.