It proved to be an exceptional program for his students...working
together in teams with schedules and goals. Participation by every
student enabled them to read plans and feel motivated. They found
an opportunity to apply their knowledge and basic academic skills...math/measurement,
reading and problem solving that they have developed during their
first five years in school
The success of the project was easy to recognize as he watched
students self-confidence and self-esteem grow. Many of the students
became more organized and self-directed in their approach to learning.
The carry over is evident when students begin to improve in other
academic areas. Relationships among students in the class became
more positive and trusting. Members of class recognize that each
person has individual talents that are unique to that person and
situation. PRODUCTIVITY within the class is up BEHAVIOR and DISRUPTIONS
are DOWN! School is fun and individuals old and young alike learn
when they are able to apply their skills in a supportable setting.
Students use hand tools & plans for the canoes designed by
Platt Monfort. Schmidlin stumbled on to Monfort’s website
www.gaboats.com (formerly www.geodesicairoliteboats.com) and ordered
not one but two different designs! (Sweet Pea and Explorer 14)
The boats were built in the classroom without much disruption
to the other activities in the room. Phil milled the wood parts
at home on his table saw, so the class performed the actual assembly
of the boats.
The construction technique is fun and simple utilizing basic
skills and ordinary hand tools. Materials are inexpensive and
there is no need for elaborate forms, lofting, spiling, planking,
sanding and fairing epoxy, etc. associated with other boat building
methods. A Geodesic Airolite boat consists of a simple, lightweight
wooden framework, braced with triangulated Kevlar roving strands.
This tough basket-like frame is then covered with Dacron fabric.
This material is similar to sailcloth, except that it is heat
shrunk and provides a beautiful smooth hull surface with no darts
folds or puckers.
Some students gave up recess to work on the canoe...coming to
school early and staying late to get in extra hours. The project
has been so successful some children think that it is more fun
than recess! This is the 4th year that Schmidlin has conducted
his successful courses, building two boats per year.. the principle,
Pat Parrish, endorses the project and says "Building canoes
is a really nice opportunity for the kids"
The Huron Valley Education foundation grant funded the canoe
project..grants were awarded to projects like Schmidlin’s
every June. This facilitated the added incentive of possible ownership.
Going into the project , the students know that in June, when
the boats are completed and the Dacron is sealed with class-approved
colors, Mr. Shmidlin draws names out of a hat for two pupils,
who will take home canoes.
Spring Mills Elementary School of the Huron Valley School District