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.
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.