"Navis Stellarum" set to embark on a high seas adventure!
For the seventh year in a row, the Morristown-Beard School 6th Grade Class will launch a 5-foot, unmanned sailboat as part of the "Educational Passages" program.
This year's boat — Navis Stellarum (Latin for ‘The Ship of the Stars’) — will be launched during winter break with help from MBS trustee and former parent Joe Robillard. The vessel is equipped with a GPS that transmits to a satellite, so the students can track its journey on the web. In its hull, students placed a variety of items, from videos about daily life at MBS to an American flag and Pez dispensers.
The first MBS boat — Crimson Tide — was launched in December of 2012 and was recovered by a fisherman in Guernsey, an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. It was later re-launched and washed ashore in France. Other MBS boats have traveled to Spain, Florida, the Shetland Islands, and the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.
Last year’s 6th Grade sailboat, The Fanta Sea, is still in the Atlantic Ocean after nine months at sea. It was headed towards Spain, but has dipped to the south and is now closer to northern Africa. You may follow its progress here (it is the yellow path): https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_ep_2018_1.html
The Educational Passages program was created by a sailor from Maine who wanted to educate youngsters about ocean winds and currents. MBS Middle School teacher Lisa Swanson says the project is exciting because it can also provide a backdrop to teach everything from physics to world languages. A significant aspect of the project hinges on the hope that students can connect with their peers across the globe when the boat reaches a foreign shore. When Crimson Tidewas retrieved off the coast of Guernsey, for example, it set up exciting new learning opportunities as MBS students connected with students there via skype.
"More often than not, the boats do make it over to Europe, but they often take a very roundabout path," said Mr. Robillard. "You never know where it's going to go, and that's part of the adventure."