LONG BEACH – Students of the El Viento Foundation learned the science behind sailing during sailing lessons tied to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction this summer.
Through a partnership with the United States Sailing Center at Long Beach, approximately 50 fifth and sixth graders learned the mechanics of sailing vessels both through classroom lectures and on-the-water experience. Seventh and eighth graders attended the program for three weeks while the younger students attended for one week.
“The program has a strong component of kids sailing but also helps them understand the science behind it,” said Colleen Mensel, president and chief executive officer for the El Viento Foundation. “It takes components of sailing from putting lines together to wind and making the kids really think about it.”
Students were introduced to the program by being taken on boats during the first day of the three-week camp. The 3 ½ hour days consisted of classroom lessons on STEM related subjects and getting out on the water where they practiced the skills discussed in class. Lessons included the geometry of the sail, square footage and buoyancy components.
Students were oriented into the center’s FJs where two to three kids steered the boat under the direction of staff.
“I think adding the STEM education component has been positively received,” said Michael Segerblom, executive director of the U.S. Sailing Center. “The kids almost don’t know they are studying science, technology, engineering and math because the activities are integrated into the work.”
El Viento held the program through the Newport Sea Base for 12 years before making the decision to partner with the U.S. Sailing Center in Long Beach in an effort to provide more latitude in developing a curriculum for the foundation.
According to the organization, the STEM program, known as Reach, is administered through the U.S. Sailing Association and funded by the John B. and Nelly Llanos Kilroy Foundation. Reach utilizes sailing as an educational platform to establish a passion for learning and exploring STEM-based education and careers.
The El Viento Foundation is a long-term educational enrichment program for students from the underserved Oak View neighborhood in Huntington Beach. Most of the neighborhood’s residents face severe socioeconomic challenges as a result of living at or below the poverty line. El Viento makes a commitment to 25 fourth graders each year and works with them into college, according to the foundation.
Both organizations plan to continue and grow the partnership.
“We want to have a bridge for kids who have an affinity for sailing to do so,” Mensel said. “We will discuss how to make it possible for kids to continue to sail.”
For more information, visit elviento.org or ussclb.org.