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Eckstein Floats to the North Pole

Submitted by Ms. Jessica Levine, MEd, Eckstein Middle School Teacher, Seattle, Washington

Hi, I am Jane Hoofnagle, and I am a sixth grader at Eckstein Middle School in Seattle, Washington. I was a student participating in the Float Your Boat program this year (2022-23). The unit we did this as part of was weather and ocean currents. After that unit we started a unit on melting arctic sea ice. I loved this project. I thought it was fun to design our boats about ourselves and to know they would get set on sea ice miles away hopefully to be found again. I also like how it is a project that we might not get a response for until 2027 or later. That aspect is cool.

Since this is the third year that Eckstein has been participating in the program, every student at Eckstein now has made a boat. This year a new 6th grade teacher at Eckstein participated because my mom, Sara Hoofnagle moved to teaching 7th grade science. Mr. Rothwell started this year, and Mr. Westmorland has been doing it for 3 years, like Ms. Levine. So here at Eckstein four teachers have been participating or have participated in this experience. I asked a few teachers and students what they thought about the program.

Ms. Levine said, “I love the Float Your Boat program. One of the big reasons is that it connects our curriculum to the work of local scientists here at the University of Washington, just down the road. Through our participation I get to see students be creative, focused, and connected. I am glad our students get to connect with the Arctic and track their boats for years to come, recognizing the impact of actions on the climate. Plus, I got to tour the USCG Healy icebreaker, and one year later, biked a wooden boat that did not make our boxes for some reason, all the way down to the Coast Guard ship. That was fun.”

Mr. Rothwell, thought, “I thought that it was a wonderful way to get students engaged in citizen science. The excitement that the students showed to be involved in real-world scientific research was impactful and made our study of ocean currents and the changing ice much more meaningful! It gave them a more authentic connection to what we were learning in class and provided what I believe will be a memorable experience years from now.”

My friend also in 6th grade Ms. Levine’s class said, “I thought it was fun to design our boats and to know they are actually going into the world for a reason, I hope I get mine found and I am so glad we got to do this to get this chance to understand this topic better.”

All photos by Jessica C Levine.


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