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Charter school’s Summer Institute turns Navesink into a classroom

By STEVEN VIERA
Staff Writer

RED BANK — A group of local students can now add boat building to their resumes.

The Red Bank Charter School (RBCS) held a five-week Summer Institute open to all fifth-to-eighth grade students in the borough that emphasized skills in science through a series of hands-on activities such as building their own boats and launching them on the Navesink River.

This year’s Summer Institute, entitled “Set Sail,” revolved around the Navesink as a way of incorporating a local resource into the education process. RBCS Principal Meredith Pennotti explained that giving students the opportunity to see academic principles in action, such as using sailing to teach physics, for example, facilitates learning and engagement.

“I feel the idea of blending different content areas and applying them is the best way people learn,” she said.

The program focused on science, technology, engineering and math, which are known as STEM fields.

Students designed, built and launched a foam core dinghy that was large enough to hold four students. Pennotti hopes that future Summer Institute participants or even students during the school year can construct additional dinghies so that all students have the opportunity to sail their local river in a boat of their own making; she even floated the idea of establishing a sailing team.

Beyond boat building, students took field trips to the Tom’s River Seaport Museum. RBCS also partnered with Robert Koar, an instructor with over 25 years of racing and sailing experience, as well as the Monmouth Boat Club in Red Bank and de Rouville’s Boat Yard in Bayville. Pennotti pointed out that these community partners were extremely willing to help the Summer Institute.
“People are very giving with their expertise to support learning,” she said.

RBCS is a public school that serves 200 borough students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers admission via an annual lottery.

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