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Riverside Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, November 23, 2004

LAND HO! JACKIE ROBINSON RECREATION CENTER KIDS LEARN ABOUT LIFE ON THE OPEN SEAS


Thirty Parks & Recreation Afterschool kids from the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center departed from Harlem last Wednesday on a voyage to the 79th Street Boat Basin on the Hudson River. The participants, aged 6 to 12, received a hands-on experience in nautical life by the crew of the Makulu, a 34-foot sailing vessel docked at the Boat Basin.

The Makulu will set sail next month on a two-and-a-half-year journey around the world. Classrooms throughout New York City, aided by volunteer graduate students from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, will join the Makulu crew virtually on their adventure via the Reach the World website, www.reachtheworld.org.

Upon arriving at the Boat Basin, the participants received a lesson in nautical knot tying and had their questions about all things nautical answered by the Makulu crew—Heather, Sebastian, Hannah and Barrett—as well as Parks & Recreation Chief Dockmaster Gregory P. Smith. Each participant was then invited on board the Makulu to explore both the upper and lower decks of this well-equipped vessel.

On the upper deck, while seated around the ships compass and captain’s wheel, the young adventurers received a lesson in nautical navigation. Finally, the kids descended the ship’s wooden ladder to examine the crew’s living quarters—complete with kitchen, lounge, bedrooms and bathroom.

Jamila Jones, Coordinator of the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center Afterschool Program, was thrilled with the trip. "When the children returned they were extremely excited and shared their enthusiasm with everyone."

This will be the Makulu’s third expedition around the world. The Makulu first set sail in 1997 and completed its global tour two years later. The second expedition departed from the Parks & Recreation Boat Basin in November 2001 and returned to home port in May 2004. Aboard ship, four expedition crewmembers serve as the eyes and ears for students and teachers. Together, teachers, the crew and students develop resources that supplement the curriculum and make learning come alive.

Reach the World currently supports a network of 25 partner classrooms in severely under-funded public school districts in Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Schools are recruited with the help of partner organizations. Partner classrooms receive, free of charge, the opportunity to use their curricula to drive the Voyage of Makulu; graduate student interns from Columbia’s Teachers College, who assist teachers as they learn to teach with technology; tech support from the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teacher’s College; and field trips and public speaking opportunities for students.

Since the launch of the 2001 Voyage of Makulu, Reach the World has served 60 teachers and technology coordinators and their 1,800+ students in 19 New York City school sites, at grade levels ranging from 1st to 12th. The Reach the World web site is a free resource for all users and receives approximately 5,000 hits per day.

Reach the World’s vision is that one day, every classroom in every community will have the training and resources necessary to incorporate real-world, real-time materials into the learning process, sparking children’s natural curiosities and connecting them to a global community.

Over cups of hot chocolate, served before the kids were to head back to their recreation center, several participants said they would jump at the opportunity to travel the world aboard a sailboat. Others, however, felt they were better suited for dryer modes of transportation.

Written by Nate Grove
Marina Analyst

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down
from a shelf and frees them."

Samuel Butler
(1835-1902)

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