The River Revitalization Foundation has launched this summer an exciting and innovative math/conservation education project to benefit Milwaukee’s urban youth. We are calling it C.R.A.F.T. Adventures (Conservation, Recreation, and Apprenticeships for Teens). The new project provides a unique integration of conservation education and math education through traditional wooden boat building and river restoration activities. Yes, boat building! C.R.A.F.T. Adventures is part of RRF’s local response to innovative conservation and recreation projects called for in President Obama’s national initiative, America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations. That initiative is based on the belief that America needs healthy and accessible lands and waters and healthy and active youth who are connected to them.
This past spring RRF was also selected for and participated in a national training program funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research called Building To Teach. Building To Teach is a learning program that uses the traditional boat building process to excite students about math and reinforce the essential math skills they need for their future. We intend to also use these hands-on projects to connect youth to Milwaukee’s rivers and their importance.
Over the course of the next 12-18 months, our goal is to engage 50-75 Milwaukee youths through in-school, after-school, and summer sessions in hands-on wooden boat building and hikes within the Milwaukee River basin.
And we’ve already started. A group of MPS middle and high school students attending the Bay View summer Community Learning Center program built a 12-foot rowing skiff that they later launched at South Shore beach. The educational boat building project was part of a six-week session. Students met two afternoons each week. They learned to read scale drawings, loft the plans to full size, and practice carpentry used to construct their boat. The project also provided lots of opportunities to practice their mathematics skills, from measurements to being able to perform basic operations with whole numbers and fractions. (Scroll down the page for more photos of the Bayview summer program that just wrapped up)
Currently, C.R.A.F.T. is being led under the direction of Bill Nimke, RRF’s education specialist, and builder Kevin Sawicki. However, we are looking for volunteers to get involved. If this is something of interest to you and you would like more information, please contact Bill at RRF or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.