Though traveling the world became more difficult since the pandemc closed borders and raised risks in 2020, some young adventurers found a way to explore the world and connect with other cultures while remaining safely at home. Several classes of fifth graders from Rye Junior High School in New Hampshire spent two years crafting a small boat filled with mementos and loaded with a GPS tracker. Launched on October 25, 2020, the boat spent over a year at sea—eventually arriving on the rocky coast of an island in Norway.
The intrepid little vessel measures only 5.5 feet long and consists of a mast, hull, and keel. In 2018, a fifth-grade teacher at Rye Junior High School purchased the boat kit from the “mini boat” program created by Educational Passages. The organization seeks to educate children about our oceans while providing an opportunity to build and decorate their own boat. Once a boat is completed, Educational Passages launches it. Each boat is equipped with GPS so that the students can track it, wherever it drifts.
COVID-19 interrupted the construction of the Rye Junior High School boat—named Rye Riptides— but Educational Passages executive director Cassie Stymiest stepped in to help. Students sent their decorations to Stymiest, who affixed the finishing touches. In October 2020, the boat was launched into the Atlantic Ocean with the students watching over Facebook.
Shortly thereafter, the GPS pings started coming in. Rye Riptides traveled along the Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current, for 462 days. After September 30, 2021, the boat stopped pinging, possibly indicating it had been destroyed. The children and Educational Passages had almost given up on the tiny craft when on January 31, 2022 a final ping registered. Rye Riptides had landed at last after a journey of 8,000 miles in Smøla, Norway.
Stymiest began searching for a local resident to retrieve the boat. Mariann Nuncic and her son Karel, a sixth grader, happened to live nearby. They retrieved what was left of the now barnacle-covered Rye Riptide. The mast and hull were lost, but the capsule of mementos remained. Karel took the boat to his class to open it. Inside, the students discovered leaves, U.S. quarters, and an autographed face mask.
After a long journey, the Rye Riptide has brought two classes of young people from different countries together. Its now sixth- and seventh-grade creators are excited about the boat's successful journey. They even plan to Zoom with their new Norwegian friends.
To learn more about the Rye Riptide and other amazing mini-boat journeys, check out Education Passages' website.
Fifth graders in New Hampshire built and launched a mini-boat which then traveled over 8,000 miles to wind up in Norway.
A sixth-grade student in Norway has discovered a miniboat launched by New Hampshire middle schoolers. The boat was launched 462 days and has traveled more than 8,300 miles. https://t.co/lMplLdItKN
— NPR (@NPR) February 16, 2022