A small project at a New Hampshire school is connecting kids around the world.
Some students in Rye launched a tiny ship more than a year ago, and it recently washed ashore on a small Norwegian island.
It all started as a middle school science project. Kids at Rye Junior High built and decorated a miniature boat, named it the Rye Riptides, and filled it with certain items.
"We put in some acorns, money, and a mask with all our names on it," explained sixth-grader Kaitlin Tabit.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
They launched the boat in October of 2020.
With a GPS on board, the students learned about tides, winds and waves while they tracked its journey.
It was a labor of love for everyone at the school. When the kids were learning remotely because of the pandemic, or home for summer break, the custodians took over and tracked the boat's location on a map in the hallway.
U.S. & World
But for months, the GPS went silent.
"I thought it had flipped over, or barnacles weighed it down," said sixth-grader Keira Hagen.
Their teacher, Sheila Adams, was disappointed, but not surprised.
"The reality is, it's a big ocean, and lots of things can happen," she said.
In January, 462 days after launch, the GPS pinged again – in Norway.
A mom halfway around the world saw the social media request for someone to retrieve it.
She used her cellphone to take video of her sixth-grader discovering the tattered, barnacle-covered boat not far from their backyard.
"I was going crazy, I was very excited and happy," said Rye sixth-grader Jack Facella.
And on Thursday, there was even more excitement. The students from Rye Junior High connected virtually with the kids who found their project about 8,000 miles away.
The kids chatted about the boat, they also asked questions about Norway's culture, and then, even talked about Bruno.
"Have you guys seen 'Encanto,' like the Disney movie?" asked a couple of the New Hampshire students.
For Mrs. Adams, who retired last year, this is, without a doubt, the highlight of her 41-year-career.
"It is bittersweet," she said. "This was the one missing piece of my retirement, and now, I can close that chapter."
Her students say it was a simple school experiment that's turned into an experience of a lifetime.
"I think it was really cool, because now, our little fifth-grade project that meant so much to us, now it means a lot to everyone else," said seventh grader Molly Flynn. "It's just like, this little boat has changed our lives so much."