Sparhawk Middle School and the Mayflower Shallop

Diane Hichborn

Sparhawk Middle School and the Mayflower Shallop

by Diane Hichborn, Middle School Teacher

Middle schoolers made their monthly visit to Lowell’s Boat Shop where they have the opportunity to explore the history of boating as well as applying their math and science skills towards the boat building industry. Each visit, students bring their hand made journals to record, tides, weather, and wind direction.

In November, boat builder Graham showed students a variety of wood types, explaining the properties and how the wood type was important to and used in boat building. Students also learned about the many tools used in the fishing industry. They split up into groups, studied the tools and materials in each of the museum’s boat displays, and then taught each other what they had learned about the importance of each tool.

On our most recent visit to the boat shop, students were fortunate to check out the replica of the Mayflower’s shallop that currently resides outside the shop overlooking the Merrimac River. The shallop is the “ship to shore” boat that is currently being refurbished by Lowell boat shop members. Students were able to observe what the damages were, why they needed to be fixed, and how it was going to get done. Once inside the boat shop, students were able to mask out the size of the shallop with the help of assistants Dorothy and Patty. Each student was assigned the role of a crewmember that was aboard the original Mayflower and participated in an interactive simulation as a narrative was read from Nathaniel Philbrick’s The Mayflower. As we were leaving the boat shop, Patty asked our Sparhawk students to be the first group in this area to write a journal entry of their visit and observations of the Mayflower shallop to be contributed to a collection stored in Mystic Seaport where the Mayflower II is being repaired. Here are some examples of journal writing:

"Our visit to Lowell's boat shop today was a very cool experience. The people that worked there really told us the details of the history, and how they make their boats. They explained the process of how the different types of boats were used and built. Once inside their workshop, we watched them actually work on the boats that they built, which I thought was very fascinating. The latest trip we went on we learned about the Mayflower shallop and how they are repairing this replica due to rot and damage. The insulation in the bottom of the boat is no longer working as it is supposed to. They had to repair most of the wood because it was rotting away and was not strong anymore. " ~ S.H. 6th Grade

"Todat at Lowell's Boat Shop, we learned about a lot of different things.  We learned about different types of wood, their benefits, and how to use the different kinds of wood.  The thing that I thought was very helpful was learning about the compass patterns, and a hack to know where you are, or which way the wind is blowing." ~H.D. 7th Grade