Rhode Island

Tiny Boat, Big Inspiration: Rhode Island School Project Crosses Atlantic

Students and their teachers from Central Falls are celebrating a scientific achievement on the high seas

NBC Universal, Inc.

In the smallest city, in the tiniest state, a little boat is making a big impact.

“I think it just means that we can do anything,” said Amy Carney, a teacher at Raices Dual Language Academy in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

Students and their teachers from Central Falls are celebrating a scientific achievement on the high seas.

Their tiny boat made with the help of the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography - has crossed the Atlantic to land in Southern England.

“It was like five or six feet long and it had a little white sail that was like three or four feet tall,” said Central Falls High School Engineering teacher Alison Murray.

A man walking his dog found it in late November and turned it over to his wife, a teacher. That teacher and her class in the United Kingdom met with the Rhode Island students to talk about the unassuming vessel’s remarkable journey.

It was full of personal touches by the Rhode Island students and equipped with a GPS so they could track it and learn about the ocean when they launched it in March.

“We talked about currents, we talked about critters that live in the ocean," explained Andrea Gingras, Assistant Director of Public Engagement at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

Called the Inspiration, after their city’s new slogan, the students found just that in this project.

“I get a lot of inspiration from this project in general, especially with the little kids like, like knowing that they were able to do this, lets me know that I can do something too,” said Central Falls High School Senior and Lead Engineer on the project, Ajah Johnson.

“I've always wanted to be a scientist, said Ashley Donis, a student at Raices Dual Language Academy, “And it's helped me learn more about things like this.”

The Inspiration was tumbling through the gulf stream for 245 days and covered nearly 15,000 kilometers.

“That little mini boat made a huge impact on these children. I think it was fabulous,” said Kim Alix, a third-grade teacher at Veterans Memorial Elementary.

That impact was felt across an ocean and between students.

“I wanna be like her,” said Ashley Donis of Ajah Johnson.

“That just makes it so good,” said a smiling Johnson.

It’s not unusual for tiny boats to hit land. Gingras says 75% of these boats make it to shore. Now, the UK school will prepare to relaunch the boat, with help from a nearby school.

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