Sailboat Built by Oregon Students Continues Journey to Japan

    SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A miniature sailboat built by Oregon sixth-graders has been put back out to sea to continue its voyage to Japan after running aground near Sitka, Alaska.

    An Alaska fisherman discovered the boat in late February and reached out to teachers at Sitka schools, leading to students at Blatchley Middle School to take part in the international project, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported .

    Students at Otto Peterson Elementary School in Scappoose, Oregon, had launched the boat in December as part of an educational project sponsored by the Columbia River Museum.

    The Oregon students built 10 fiberglass vessels equipped with sails and GPS tracking devices. Half of the 5-foot (1.5-meter) boats were flown to Japan to three partner schools in the Aomori Prefecture where the vessels were deployed.

    The project aims to teach students in both countries about ocean currents and different cultures as the boats sail across the Pacific Ocean.

    After learning of the boat, Sitka science teacher Stacy Golden said she jumped at the opportunity to have her class participate. The education director of the Columbia River Museum then flew to Sitka to explain the project to the students and help ready the boat for its next voyage.

    Golden said the Sitka students dried out the boat, patched the keel and made some aesthetic upgrades. The boat was launched from Alaska on Wednesday and is now at the mercy of the wind and ocean currents to reach its destination.

    "All of the sudden, they feel like they're part of something bigger," Golden said of her students.

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