TEACH FLEETLego Ship Models for Education
STEM, HISTORY, and DIVERSITY
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, students from Cleveland Street School went on a field trip to Port Newark, NJ to experience the TEACH FLEET Lego Model Ships exhibit. TEACH FLEET is a spectacular collection of 200 Lego ships built by Commodore Wilbur McKinley who is a former naval architect and founder of the Teach Fleet program. The collection consists of all types of modern ships that serve different functions, including battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, supertankers, and cargo ships.
The goal of TEACH FLEET is to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to encourage environmental awareness and stewardship. The collection also highlights Navy and Maritime history and diversity by recognizing prominent women and minorities who made significant contributions to STEM and Maritime. Each ship is named after a scientist, physician, engineer, mathematician, military officer or explorer. Placards featuring the portrait and biography of its namesake was next to each ship.
Upon arriving at the Seamen’s Church Institute, the children were divided into small groups for a circuit of activities that included a slide presentation, the Lego ships exhibit, hands-on building stations and a tour of the seaport. During the tour, students saw scrap steel loaded directly into giant “break-bulk” ships, cement dumped into concrete trucks from huge silos, stones from Madagascar, rock salt piles, an orange juice tanker and a container ship dispersing cooking oils. Port Newark is the largest port on the East Coast and the third-largest in the country. Maritime commerce is a trillion dollar industry transporting 90% of the goods and essentials we use in our lives every day.
At the hands-on building stations, students built model ships and learned about their functions. They also learned about the men and women who work in the industry. The majority are seafarers and mariners. One of the presenters was a local harbor pilot. Captain John DeCruz, the first African American President of the NY Sandy Hook Pilots Assoc., said that it is the harbor pilots who steer the ships and tankers into port - and not the ship's captain. The average salary of harbor pilots nationwide is more than $400, 000.
To learn more about Commodore Wilbur McKinley and the TEACH FLEET educational program, go to http://teachfleet.com/_the_fleet. To get a better understanding of marine commerce, check out this Ports America video or the Port Newark Container Terminal website at https://www.pnct.net. In addition, several student posts about the entire TEACH FLEET experience can be found at Cleveland's Student Blogs.
Special thanks to our hosts, Stephen Lyman, Director of the Seamen's Church Institute and his staff for their educational and financial contributions.