Brooklyn BoatworksOn Wednesday, June 10, Brooklyn Boatworks students launched their hand-built Optimist prams from New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. Launch day was a celebration of accomplishment for these students who built the boats during the 2014/’15 school year.


Participants came from three New York City middle schools: Launch (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn), Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (Forest Hills, Queens), and Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies (Carroll Gardens/Red Hook, Brooklyn).

Thirteen-year-old participant Nia said of her first sailing experience, “It was pretty cool because I was sitting in a boat that I created myself.” Yousra, also 13, said, “At first it was scary, but once you’re in [the boat] and follow the wind it’s fun!”

Brooklyn Boatworks is a youth development organization that teaches boat building and sailing to middle school students. The program begins with students learning to read a set of plans and practicing boat building techniques. With four sheets of marine grade plywood and hand tools, each class then builds its own Opti. Using boat building as the medium, the curriculum incorporates STEM skill learning, team-building, leadership development, self-sufficiency, and craftsmanship.

Executive Director Marjorie R. Schulman said “Brooklyn Boatworks seeks to build and reinforce students’ skills and abilities while concurrently opening up a world of new experiences and opportunities that can be accessed within their own city.” For more information, email or visit

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