More Fun Than Recess & Gym Class - Middle School Workshop

More Fun Than Recess & Gym Class - Middle School Workshop

We met Robin almost a year ago when she decided to come join us for a board building workshop. She was determined to build her own surfboard, but we learned pretty quickly that she had a much bigger vision in mind. Robin was an 8th grade science teacher in Rye NH for 26 years, however in recent years, she’s taken over as the middle schools STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) teacher which involves incorporating the engineering and design process into various projects. "I try to make sure that each of the STEAM elements gets included in the bulk of the project. In addition - the school has a long history of woodworking in the woodshop. My goal - and the goal of the school - is to continue (and expand) the woodworking capabilities within our school" says Robin.  As if that's not enough, she’s also worked for 4 seasons with an Antarctic Research Team, with a study focused on three main areas: climate change, the flow of energy through an extreme end-limit ecosystem, and astrobiology. Needless to say she’s a bit of a legend around here.

Robin on the right with her 10' Waterlog. 

This year, Robin had some more radical goals in mind. Her plans are to, eventually, work up to having every 8th grader in her school have the option to build their own wooden surfboard before graduation. This was music to our ears, as for the last 5 years, we’ve been exploring options to engage with teachers and students in both private and public schools. We had created a “train-the-trainers” concept where we work to build up the skills of teachers and give them the confidence take those skills back to school. Results have varied depending on the program and student engagement, but each experience has provided constructive feedback to continually improve our academic offerings.

Robin was committed to the success of her program.   After finishing her own board, she set out and successfully raised funds through the Rye Education Foundation and the PTA. She turned the workshop space into a full-fledged surfboard shop, stocking up on clamps, spokeshaves, chisels and Japanese saws. In the end, we supplied 12 surfboard kits and 7 paipo blanks to the school, all of which were built under her tutelage between January and May 2019. A very impressive feat especially as most of the students had never used these tools before and were limited to short blocks of time just a couple days each week!

Personalizing your handshaped paipo is like icing on the cake. 

Step one, glue up top and bottom planks. 

Applying adhesive in preperation for glueing down the frame to the bottom planks. Nice to have a few extra sets of hands for this. 

Railing up the board. It's amazing to begin to watch the shape of the board appear through this process. 

While she stopped by our shop and emailed from time to time with some questions, Robin managed all of this on her own. John and I went down to Rye as they were nearing completion to help router out for fin boxes. We were happy to see 12 energetic kids running around trimming their glass, installing hardware and brushing on gloss coats in anticipation of a summer of surf. We left with a real sense of satisfaction and a renewed energy to keep pushing our education initiative. We couldn’t be any prouder of Robin and all the kids for the beautiful boards they built. We’re looking forward to helping Robin improve the shop and process and we can’t wait to see more stoked faces next school year. 

Once the top is added, it's time to remove excess material and blend the deck and rails togteher. 

Laminating one layer of 4 ounce fiberglass cloth to the board with Entropy Epoxy, a bio-based, zero VOC epoxy. 

Smiles for miles. Too many boards and too many students to shoot all at once. 

Paipo shapers, ready for endless head high waves. 

If you’re a teacher and are interested in working with us, shoot us an email at school@grainsurfboards. We’d love to hear your thoughts and to find ways to work together.  For even more images and info on Robin's project, click here.  

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