Hands On Floating Curriculum

In October of 2018, a group of students began the process of building the Opti in Room 128. Under the direction of Laura Botel, the program coordinator of Brooklyn Boatworks, a nonprofit after-school program, and volunteers from the organization, the students met for two hours a week. Here, they mastered new manual skills and a new vocabulary, including words like transom, daggerboard and thwart.
Schools in Crown Heights, East New York, Harlem, Washington Heights and Woodside, also built Optis this year.
Last fall at M.S. 88, the boat building process began with four unfinished sheets of marine plywood, design plans and some basic hand tools like screwdrivers, small saws and cordless drills. The idea was to build a seaworthy boat entirely by hand and then sail it in an inlet on the East River on an appointed day, rain or shine, by the end of the school year.
The day came on June 10th. And it rained, but it happened: A small flotilla of Optis, each one of which had been built inside classrooms across the city, set sail, holding one student-builder and one adult. (It is standard procedure for Optis to be equipped with buoyancy bags, which, on this day, came in handy with the extra person on board.)