Did you know that 80% of the ocean remains unexplored? Most of that is underwater, of course, but for one small vessel hand-built by a team of fifth-graders in New Hampshire, the open ocean is where the most exciting discovery can be found.
The mini boat program helps kids learn how to build, launch, track, and recover STEM-inspired hand-built boats.
Each boat can be filled with cool things that tell the folks who find it a bit about the kids who built it. And with a sophisticated tracking GPS system, the kids can watch it travel the world.
“It’s like a 21st-century message in a bottle,” Educational Passage’s executive director, Cassie Stymiest, told CNN.
The students named their boat Rye Riptides and on an October day, they watched over Facebook Live as the folks from Educational Passage launched the boat.
Now, if you’ve ever been to a boat launch, you know that it can go very slow. A vessel as small as Rye Riptides likely floated off at a snail’s pace, but the excitement of just knowing that something built by hand was finally heading off into the unknown must have been thrilling.
The kids observed the tracking for data and in late September 2021, it appeared that the boar had lost its signal.
Talk about a big bummer.
But then, miraculously, in January 2022, the kids saw that the tracking signal was back and the Rye Riptides location was in Norway.
The vessel had lost its mast, keel, and sails, but luckily the fun treasure inside was still intact. Students at a school in Norway opened it up to find US coins, leaves, and a face mask signed by the kids who built Riptide.
The boat that the kids put together is impressive, but also very expensive.
According to the Educational Passages website, the cost for a build-it-yourself mini boat is $4,500 plus shipping and an annual fee to start.
The premade parts come in a kit and include fiberglass boat parts, hand-sewn sail, a solar-powered GPS transmitter, all the supplies needed to build the vessel, and learning materials for the classroom.
The cost to track the vessel after launch is another $1000 plus $500 a year to observe.
For those who want to try something similar, there is always the old-fashioned, glass, message in a bottle. Simply take a wine bottle, roll up a fun note and slip it inside then replace the cork as tight as you can.
Toss it in the ocean and hope it makes it across the ocean.
At best, you’ll make a friend across the pond. At worst, your glass bottle will turn into sand and the paper note will disintegrate, leaving behind no pollution.
As for the kids who built the Rye Riptides, they are excited to be making friends with a group of kids in Norway.
Their boat was discovered by a boy named Karel Nuncic who shared the boat with his sixth-grade class in coastal Norway. Talk about a fun ending for a very cool project.