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Learning Ships -

Exciting, practical ways of engaging students and their families with their region’s maritime heritage and cultural landscape.

The project was instigated in Bristol which has the highest tidal reach of any city in the world and a rich tradition of ship building and shipping. At the same time there is a disconnection between the people in Bristol and their maritime hertage.

Through this programme young people from 5 to 18 can experience their city or town's maritime heritage, visit exciting locations and work in teams with business volunteers to complete practical challenges.

The programme is also designed to inspire young people to think about their future, whether it is finding about careers or believing in their passions by meeting people who support them through fun, practical activities.


Learning Ships workshops, explore themes such as:

  • Maritime history and future
  • Cultural heritage
  • Tides and tidal landscapes
  • Meeting people from a wide range of job roles in different industry sectors 
  • Teamwork
  • Skills needed for success and happiness in work and life
  • Construction skills
Workshops are aviable for all
ages 5 to 18


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Young Shipwrights for Key Stage 1 (5/6 year olds)

Creation of small wind-powered land-yachts. Pairs of children work together to make a single-hull yacht and then collaborate with others to combine their hulls into a catamaran that can go faster and further. Links to exploration, discovery, transport and journeys. see more  

What happens?

  1. Volunteers meet the children
  2. Boats, ships and ideas to do with travel, exploration and trade are illustrated/performed
  3. Challenge is set to build a boat capable of crossing the floor (school hall or other venue). The floor is the Atlantic ocean with Bristol on one side and New Foundland on the other
  4. Resources are handed out and the challenge to build the best boat begins with different options for sail size and shape.
  5. Single hull boats are tested using Dyson Air Multipliers to generate wind
  6. Someone has the smart idea of working with another boat to combine hulls and increase sail size
  7. Boats start to evolve and reach further and further until a team reaches Newfoundland
  8. Discussions about being bold, collaborating and taking risks that relate to attitudes to life and learning create an effective round up to the session

Cost - Through sponsorship from industry partners we aim to provide a day workshop for 30 young people for £350 or less.

Young Shipwrights for Key Stage 2 (7 /11 year olds)

What happens?

In bristol workshop are held in the Engine Shed, Enterprise Zone Business Hub and they include Bristol Packet Boat tour and visit to Underfall Yard. Similar experiences can be created for other towns and cities usually using a museum or maritime heritage centre.

  1. Pupils meet volunteers from business and industry. Creating the volunteers as a 'Top-Trump Card' for the My Future My Choice card game
  2. Learning expeditions in the Floating Harbour by Bristol Packet Boat
  3. Working as a team with their volunteer mentor to build a metre long model of a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter
  4. Boats are decorated with children's aspirations for the future and their learning about soft and hard skills needed for success and happiness
  5. Boats can be stored by us or taken away for further decoration and display in schools
  6. Boats are collected (Mid July) for sailing in the Bristol Harbour Festival Young Shipwrights Boat Race (Festival opening event Saturday morning at end of Summer Term 2019)
  7. Winning boat awarded cheque for £100 made out to the school

Workshops can be held in schools

As above but we bring in a maritime experience covering navigation, voyages of discovery, trade and the future of shipping.

Where possible RNLI, Coastguard bring inshore rescue vessel into school playground. The Royal Navy are often willing collaborators and we facilitate all the volunteers and contributors for the event. 

Cost - Through sponsorship from industry partners we aim to provide a day workshop for 30 young people for £350 or less. (The actual cost without sponsorship is £1500.  Some activities and courses are free due to the generosity ofour funders. (Please be aware funding is not always available)

The Young Shipwrights project has reached over 10,000 young people in the last nine years

see more

'Shipping2050' for Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Post 16

For workshops held on-board the MV Balmoral, a large passenger vessel moored outside M Shed in Bristol's Floating Harbour 

  1. Students work in small teams with an engineer, marine architect, shipwright or sailor.
  2. Rotating through illustrated interactive short talks about aspects of shipping
  3. Exploring the ship to gather building instructions and parts to build a model of the Balmoral
  4. Build to scale a sectional model of the Balmoral so it can be viewed inside and out
  5. Interactive discussion the issues facing shippingindustry and the possible solutions
  6. Teams amend and annotate their model to create a design for a concept ship fit for the future
  7. Students end the day by presenting their ideas and adapted model. Linking function to design
  8. Follow upwork in school with industry partners
  9. Final designs for concept ships are exhibited on board the MV Balmoral as part of the Bristol Harbour Festival our of maritime experiences
  10. An awards evening, with judges from the maritime industry is held on board the MV Balmoral for parents
See more

Cost - Through sponsorship from Royal Academy of Engineering and industry partners we  provide a day workshop for 30 young people for £350 or less.

Build a Boat 16 to 23 year olds

Schools and businesses work together to build a boat.

Suits post 16 students who and businesses that want to build a relationship with a school through a practical activity that motivates and inspires their staff as well as the school students.

What happens?

  1. Contact us - (see foot of page) - to make an enquiry or a plan
  2. We bring schools, businesses and a boat builder together. We negotiate costs with both parties and where possible use business connections to reduce costs of materials or cutting out of parts.
  3. The project runs one day a week for 6 or 8 weeks. Space for this is more likely to be available in a school than a business but the business can host the students if that suits.
  4. Boats are launched and used. The ownership/ storage of the boat can be with the school or the business but all can access the boat to enjoy it.  

 



Learning Outcomes:

Team work

Understanding jobs and opportunities

Raised aspirations

Communication and presentation skills

Practical building and construction skills

Deeper understanding of specific periods of maritime history/trade and exploration.