Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Teens put through build-a-boat program, launch craft in Sylvania pool

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A special summer camp for local teens of color ended with the launching of a boat and a jump into the Sylvania Campus pool, a first for the college.

Christening the the boat “Ship Recked Shark,” eight students (seven boys and a girl) ended a week that combined teamwork and communication with traditional boat building to increase their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The program was a partnership between PCC, the Wind and Oar Boat School and iUrban Teen.

The students built a 12-foot long Bevin skiff; widely used in youth education programs and on the water for recreational rowing, and along the way learned the value of planning, interaction and responsibility–all critical job skills.

The Build-A-Boat camp-style class came together through the creative spirit and vast connections of several PCC players

The Build-A-Boat camp-style class came together through the creative spirit and vast connections of several PCC players

The Build-A-Boat camp-style class came together through the creative spirit and vast connections of several PCC players. They include Southeast Campus President Jessica Howard, who serves on the board of Wind and Oar; Southeast Campus Dean of Math, Sciences and CTE Division Al McQuarters, who teaches after school classes for youth; and Sylvania Campus Interim Dean of Math and Industrial Technology Gregg Meyer, who in the past has collaborated with iUrban Teen.

The iUrban Teen Program focuses on non-traditional STEM learners that are ages 13 to 18 and exposes them to careers in technology. Though the target demographic is African American and Latino males, the program is inclusive of all youth, and has almost equal parity of girls to boys participating in their programs.

The Wind and Oar Boat School is the vision of its Executive Director Peter Crim, who grew up among boat and aircraft builders and designers. Crim, a former English teacher, said Wind and Oar works with organized youth groups or agencies during the school year to conduct for-credit classes for fifth grade through high school students. Summer is reserved for camp-style classes.

The Sylvania camp gave students the opportunity to use hand woodworking tools and simple modern shop tools to practice the centuries-old craft. Throughout the process, they applied math, engineering skills and contextualized learning and came away with a tangible object none of them had ever before built and few had ever traveled in.

That tangible object turned out to be a work of beauty – a wooden boat. The boat, though, was the platform for reading and interpreting a building plan, formulating a schedule, anticipating situations, and executing a process, all in a team environment.

The students learned from the best. Three instructors from Wind and Oar guided the students on the boat building experience. Alex Luboff, Greg Simons and Chris Wood all have experience in working with young people. Luboff, an Outward Bound leader, has taken kids on week-long trips on long boats while Simons is the studio manager of a wood shop at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Wood is in a master program focused on science education at Portland State University. In addition, Electronic Engineering Technology Program’s Ben Hill (instructional support technician) and Reg Holms (instructor) provided students further opportunity to learn other technologies by working with equipment from the campus’ MakerSpace lab.

The boat served other purposes as well. The PCC Foundation, which participated in the Port of Portland Seaport Fest the following weekend, raffled the boat. Nearly $530 was raised in a cross-promotion with the Port with proceeds from the raffle and an accompanying art sale will go to PCC’s Working Waterfront Scholarship Fund. This fund supports students in the Swan Island Trades Center at Vigor Industrial and allows them to learn trades and skills in welding and diesel technologies.

  • The Build-A-Boat camp-style class came together through the creative spirit and vast connections of several PCC players
  • The Build-A-Boat camp-style class came together through the creative spirit and vast connections of several PCC players

About Karen Kane

Karen Kane is the Community Relations Manager for the Sylvania Campus. A passionate storyteller and communicator, Karen has told the stories for several organizations in Portland, including the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the ... more »

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