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Maritime Museum Helps Students Take Learning on the High Seas

Local fourth- and fifth-graders experience history firsthand aboard a tall ship

For kids, history is usually a long list of dry facts read from a textbook. But for 475 local fourth- and fifth-graders, the past will come alive as they re-enact life on a tall ship during October through the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Spirit of Dana Point Tall Ship Youth Education Program.

This year, the museum is helping 10 of 17 total schools participate for free because of the low-income status of its students.

The Spirit of Dana Point Youth Education program began in 1980 when instructors developed the characters based on Richard Henry Dana’s book Two Years Before the Mast. The teachers used these characters to immerse students in the unique world Dana faced as he rounded Cape Horn on his voyage to Alta, Calif. The ship’s arrival here has special significance because Dana’s first stop on land was here in Santa Barbara.

This program has been developed for fourth- and fifth-grade students. Two students are chosen as first mates, leading their fellow students in onboard activities such as galley duty, night watch, loading supplies and hoisting sails, and searching the harbor for hided tallow. Teachers and parents report that the program improves communication and leadership skills., increases class participation and builds teamwork and increases self-esteem.

As well as learning Santa Barbara’s unique history, the program offers lessons in math, science, language art and more. This curriculum is in compliance with the California State Board of Education History/Social Science Content Standards and highlights California’s rich maritime history.

The Spirit of Dana Point Tall Ship Youth Education Program is made possible at SBMM through the generous support of the the Nichols Foundation, the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club Women, the WWW Foundation, The Towbes Foundation, the Santa Barbara Rotary Charitable Foundation, and Harold and Bettye Fue.

To make a contribution to the program, call Development Director Fahim Farag at 805.962.8404 x102.

— Maureen Foley is the operations manager for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

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