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From Houston Texas to the Top of the World!

By Lollie Garay, PolarTREC Educator

Lollie Garay teaching Houston ISD Afterschool STEM Club.

A big shout out to our 3 Houston ISD Afterschool STEM Clubs who participated in decorating boats for the Float Your Boat project! Sponsored by Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) Department of Education, Innovation, and Technology, Center for Educational Outreach, students and teachers from Askew, Elrod, and Park Place elementary schools meet weekly to explore robotics and other STEM related topics.

They made their own wooden boats to get decorated. Then shipped the decorated boats to UW in Seattle to be branded before deployment.

When I approached the school club sponsors about participating in the Float Your Boat project, the answer was an overwhelming YES! As a PolarTREC alumni (2007,2011) and now an Instructor with BCM, I too was excited about engaging the schools in an exploration of the Arctic ocean and the opportunity to share my personal knowledge about Arctic ocean research. Through videos, images, and storytelling, students learned about the dynamics of sea ice, and the impact it has on the people and wildlife of the Arctic. They also learned about the different types of Polar scientific research and its importance in monitoring the changing polar environment. Good questions were raised and interest was generated in learning more about the Arctic, both from the students and the teachers!

Enthusiasm for the project was palpable as the children got to the important business of decorating the boats! Working in pairs, they discussed plans and negotiated designs with each other. It was exciting to see the different, personalized ideas that transformed the wooden boats into a colorful sea-worthy flotilla!

Thank you Float Your Boat for this incredible opportunity, and special thanks to Travis Kelleher from BCM for constructing extra boats for us. And of course, KUDOS to the sponsors of the afterschool programs for giving their time to participate and to the awesome students who created the amazing boat designs 😊

We can’t wait to see them on the ice and follow their journey!!

Lollie Garay


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