At noon on Thursday, May 21, two Shellback Dinghies made by students at Searsport District High School will be launched into Searsport Harbor at the Town Dock. The students have spent the past eighteen weeks building the dinghies with master boat builder Greg Rossel for their class Building a Shellback Dinghy: An Integrated Field Approach to Core Math & Science Standard. As they build the boats, the students explore marine physics and engineering concepts, Newton’s laws of motion, traditional and modern wood working, chemical reactions, and navigation. The class is in its fourth year and is a collaboration between the Penobscot Marine Museum and the Searsport District High School. It is held at Museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport. The Shellback Dinghy which the students build is a small sail boat designed by E.B. White’s son Joel White. After the launch the boats are sold and the proceeds used to fund the next year’s class.
Greg Rossel, who has been teaching boat building at WoodenBoat School for over twenty years, has help each week from community volunteers Fred Kircheis, Fred Schmidt, Bruce Brown, Rick Fitzsimmons, Rob Giffin, David Lawrence, Gerry Saunders, Pete Jenkins, and Dan Merrill. Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.