Cairns Hinterland Steiner School and Mansfield Steiner School: Boat building together!

Cairns Hinterland Steiner School and Mansfield Steiner School

Taking Boat Building to Another Level – Steiner high schools working together!

During the last three weeks of Term 2, the four Class 10 students at Cairns Hinterland Steiner School joined forces with the eleven Class 10 students from Mansfield Steiner School to build three boats using the ‘stitch and glue method’ of construction. The boats were to be completed in three weeks and be ready for launch on the Barron River. This three-week stint at Cairns Hinterland Steiner School was the last leg of an epic 8-week adventure for the Mansfield students from the Victorian Alps who travelled to the remote indigenous community of Wadeye, followed by Litchfield National Park, NT, then onto the Whitsunday Islands, Qld for two weeks sailing before heading to Cairns to join our Boat Building Main Lesson.

The two classes were split into 3 groups of 5, each making their own wooden dinghy. All day and almost every day of the three weeks were spent deciphering plans, making templates, designing, measuring, cutting, sanding, gluing and fibre glassing to name a few of the skills needed on the job. There were many ebbs and flows over the course of the build as students worked to share the load within their teams and self-manage their own contributions. The task required precision. It also required creativity to contend with the inevitable mistakes and miscalculations that occurred. There were no expert boat builders among us, and innovation and adaptability were the order of the day.

The two classes quickly became firm friends with all the Mansfield students being billeted with Cairns Hinterland families. In a short time, the bonds that the students formed by working so closely together on a shared task were reward enough for the effort in getting the program going in the first place. Thank you to educators Gio Douven (CHSS Manual Arts teacher) and Glenn Hood (Mansfield Class 6 teacher) for all their hard work keeping the students on task to reap the amazing reward of having crafted a boat from scratch.

After all the hard work and an inevitable last-minute push for completion, the boats were launched as part of the High School’s Midwinter Festival on the Barron River, Kuranda. There was much joy and delight in the fact that all three floated!

Gratitude must also be extended to all the staff involved from both schools and CHSS’s high school support, Tim Dunn, who believed we could do it and we have!

This was an incredible opportunity for two emerging Steiner high schools to work together and provide our students with a real-life experience that the Schools would not have been able to achieve alone; experiences of this kind are one of the hallmarks of Steiner high school education which supports the emerging adult to find their place in the world and know how they can contribute to it.