Sailing Aboard the AJ Meerwald

Seventh graders at Bristol Middle School set sail aboard the A.J. Meerwald, New Jersey’s offi­cial “Tall Ship,” as part of their sci­ence cur­ricu­lum.  The pro­gram ties envi­ron­men­tal lessons with the his­to­ry of the Delaware River.  Students climb aboard the 1928 oys­ter schooner and learn about the human impact on the water­ways and being envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious.  This is the fifth year BBSD mid­dle school­ers have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the sail, says Bobby Moyer, who teach­es sev­enth grade sci­ence in the mid­dle school.picture of a "tall ship" along the dock

Although Bristol Borough is locat­ed along the Delaware River, only about 15% have been on the riv­er rather than see­ing it from the shore­line.  “To under­stand the riv­er, you have to be on the riv­er,” said Moyer.  “With this [expe­ri­ence], they final­ly get to see Bristol from the water, which is huge because it looks beau­ti­ful from the water.  The town was designed to be seen from the water.” 

Allison Place, the marine oper­a­tions man­ag­er where the Meerwald is home-ported, explains that the edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram is unique because it com­bines his­to­ry and envi­ron­men­tal lessons.   The edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ences include every­thing from help­ing the crew set sail, study­ing eco-systems con­nect­ed to the riv­er, and learn­ing about the his­to­ry of the Delaware River.  Students are taught to appre­ci­ate the impact they have on the water­ways of the area and how they can make a pos­i­tive eco­log­i­cal decisions. 

The pro­gram has received con­tin­u­ing sup­port from the Bristol Borough Rotary Club, which under­wrote a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the cost to send the stu­dents and teach­ers on the excur­sion.  With Bristol Borough’s new docks, the ship and its eight mem­ber crew now have a won­der­ful port to access.