Two new wooden boats will be launched Friday, May 20, at noon, at the Searsport town dock. Boat launchings are often a cause for celebration and this one will also represent the successful completion of a semester-long science course for seven students at Searsport District High School.

Since January, Holly Hassapelis, Derrik Kenney, Alex Lane, Emily LaRosa, Jason Pendleton, Shane Sauer, and Rebecca Trimble have been working with master boatbuilder Greg Rössel to build two Shellback dinghies at Penobscot Marine Museum.

The project was a collaboration between the museum and the high school, designed to teach physical science by providing students with first-hand exposure to boat-related concepts, including center of effort, buoyancy, vectors and drag.

Science teacher Michelle Andre accompanied the students during shop time to ensure they met physical science standards through a combination of hands-on and traditional learning activities.

Additional boat-building assistance was provided by community volunteers Fred Kirchais, Dave Lawrence and Rick Fitzsimmons. PMM provided work space, tools and administrative support. The project was funded primarily by a grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation, with additional assistance from the Traditional Small Craft Association’s John Gardner Fund.

The public is invited to attend the launch to congratulate students and look at the crafted boats. For a few weeks, the dinghies will remain at the dock so students can try out their creations on the water.

The dinghies will then return to Penobscot Marine Museum, where they will be placed on display and advertised for sale at $3,500 each, including oars and sailing rigs. Proceeds will fund the program next year, when it will incorporate academic credit in mathematics as well as science.

“It’s a bargain for a nicely finished, hand-crafted wooden boat,” said Rössel.

For more information about the boats or the educational program, contact Searsport District High School Principal Brian Campbell at 207-548-2313.

Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, PMM is Maine’s oldest maritime museum and home to collections of historic boats, photography, marine art and artifacts, ship models and 19th-century furnishings and architecture. Located on Route 1, the museum opens May 27 for the 2011 season. Admission is free for Searsport residents. More information is at and 207-548-2529.