Colorado Mountains to the North Pole - Sending Wooden Boats to the Arctic

By Sarah R. Johnson, IABP PolarTREC Educator

Community members in rural western Colorado mountains learned all about the Arctic Ocean, International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP), and also decorated their own wooden boats with Wild Rose Education's Sarah R. Johnson a PolarTREC Educator in May 2022. A partnership between eight local libraries, the IABP, PolarTREC, and participating community members made it possible to reach over 100 people.


The boats will be deployed at or near the North Pole in late summer 2022. Once deployed on the sea ice, we can watch their track on the map.



Sarah R. Johnson presenting Real-Time Science: Observing Arctic Weather and Sea Ice at the Carbondale Branch Library in Carbondale, Colorado.
Sarah R. Johnson presenting Real-Time Science: Observing Arctic Weather and Sea Ice at the Carbondale Branch Library in Carbondale, Colorado.

Three Colorado public library districts hosted the Real-Time Science: Observing Arctic Weather and Sea Ice program. The participating libraries included:

  • Pitkin Pitkin County Library, Aspen

  • Basalt Regional Library

  • Carbondale Branch Library

  • Glenwood Springs Branch Library

  • New Castle Branch Library

  • Silt Branch Library

  • Parachute Branch Library

  • Rifle Branch Library

Decorated wooden boats on Arctic Ocean map
Arctic Ocean Map with decorated wooden Float Your Boats. Center boats were decorated by library staff from each library where program was hosted. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson

Getting the Wooden Boats Made

More than half of the wooden boats used in these programs were cut out locally with the generous help from volunteers. Rough cut cedar 2x4 inch lumber was purchased at the lumber yard and then, using a bandsaw was cut into small 8 inch boats. A few boats were also cut from pine 2x4 inch lumber.

Sourcing the rough cut cedar from the lumber yard. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson
Sourcing the rough cut cedar from the lumber yard. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson
John Hoffman with wooden boats
Community members John Hoffman (above) generously cut out boats along with Russ Criswell (not in photo) in Carbondale, Colorado. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson
Wooden boats were shipped out just in time to be sent on the US Coast Guard Healy icebreaker to the North Pole.
Wooden boats were shipped out just in time to be sent on the US Coast Guard Healy icebreaker to the North Pole. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson

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