Learning about great voyages in history has taken a Marlborough school on a special journey themselves.
Year 5 pupils at Rapaura School made a splash last week as they launched their own hand-made boat in the waters off Picton Foreshore.
What started as a project to mark the upcoming Totaranui 250 celebrations, ended with a 3-and-a-half metre boat built by the children themselves.
For teacher Mikayla Avant, it was a special moment.
“The kids said why not build a boat, and I thought why not?
“It wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing in my first year of teaching but it’s amazing the learning that’s come out of it.
“There’s been a bit of everything, from science, writing and tech. The community has really got involved too,” she says.
Brainstorming sessions followed and students worked out a plan for their boat’ the Bassett Barracuda.
Initial ideas included asking NZ rowing star Joseph Sullivan to provide pedal power from a bike on board.
But the final plan features vineyard posts and mussel floats, with paddles providing the momentum.
Jasper Sorenson-Brown, 9, says the class made some “pretty big decisions”.
“We learnt a lot doing this. We found out about the Polynesians who voyaged here to New Zealand and about density and why things float.”
Classmate Elsie Welbourne, 10, says they had all made prototypes before deciding on a final design.
“Some worked and some didn’t. We know that things float better in saltwater too,” she says.
Pupils also held a bake sale, raising $175 to put towards construction costs.
The project got a whole-hearted thumbs-up from the class, who donned wetsuits and life jackets for their maiden voyage.
For pupil Sam Jones, 9, the enquiry was the best of the year so far.
“It’s really cool,” he says.