Come sailing on the AJ Meerwald, New Jersey’s official tall ship! During our education sails, your group will learn about history, the environment, and teamwork. Learn about the Bayshore’s ecology, help raise the sails, and even sing a sea shanty! We can accommodate up to 41 passengers on board during our 3-hour education sails. Bring your class, troop, or other youth group out for a beautiful day on the water!
What is an Education Sail?
During a 3-hour educational sail aboard the schooner AJ Meerwald, your group will participate in a variety of hands-on activities focusing on environmental science and maritime history.
Students start off by donning life jackets and learning about safety on board the schooner. Once the boat is off the dock, they learn how to handle lines and work together to raise the sails! Depending on the port, students may trawl for critters in their local waterway.
Students then break into up to four groups and rotate through four educational workshops of your choice. Each of these workshops is hands-on and interactive. Our educators are also the boat’s crew, so students get to learn from the experts! At the end of each lesson, students are challenged to think of ways that they can personally make a difference and help preserve our natural resources.
In addition to four workshops, students will learn about the history of the AJ Meerwald, will have a brief silent reflection/observation time, and will hear the crew sing a sea shanty or two!
Group leaders choose four workshops from the list below. If you would like to learn something different than what we offer, let us know! We will work with you to accommodate your needs. All workshops are hands-on, interactive, and meet New Jersey core curriculum standards. Programs are designed for grades 4 and up, but we can accommodate younger or older students with advance notification.
- Renewable Resources | Students learn about different types of energy, with several examples demonstrated on board. Educators facilitate a discussion on the pros and cons of different energy sources, pointing out that there is no perfect solution and that a variety of different sources are needed to produce the world’s energy needs. Finally, educators will lead a discussion about what each individual can do to make a difference in sustainable energy use.
- Touch Tank (not available in all ports) | Students assist the crew in catching underwater critters using a trawl net. Educators guide the students through identifying and recording the species caught in the trawl and teach students about the special adaptations of each species and how they fit into the ecosystem as a whole.
- Plankton | Educators explain what plankton are and describe the different types, going into detail about marine food webs and the vital role that plankton play in a balanced ecosystem. Students then use a plankton trawl to catch plankton and observe them using a magnifying glass and a microscope. Educators guide students through a discussion of how plankton benefit humans and what could happen if they disappear.
- Watershed | Using a model, students populate a watershed with buildings, animals, vehicles, and wetlands. They then discuss different types of point source and non-point source pollution and add these to the model as well. When the educator “makes it rain” on the model, students can observe how the pollution enters our waterways. Educators then guide a discussion about what each student can do to help alleviate the strains of human activities on the watershed.
- Oysters | Students learn about the life cycle and importance of oysters in the Delaware Bay, including their ability to clean water, their ability to build reefs, and their historical importance to the economy of the Bayshore region. A variety of native mollusk shells are described and explored by students. Educators guide the students in a live dissection of an oyster, where they can see firsthand the anatomy of this important keystone species.
- Water Chemistry | Students obtain a sample from the local waterway. Using a variety of different methods, they are guided through the process of measuring several parameters, including dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, temperature, nitrate, phosphate, and turbidity. Each measurement is discussed, and students use this information to make an assessment of the health of their local waterway.
- Wetlands | Students learn the important role that wetlands, specifically salt marshes, play in a healthy coastal environment. Using an onboard wetlands aquarium (when available), they can observe and touch the flora, fauna, and mud from the marsh. Students play a metaphor game using various household objects to represent some functions of the salt marsh. Educators discuss the different types of wetlands, the environment within the marsh, and how wetlands benefit life on land and in the water.
- Custom Workshops | If there is a subject that you would like covered during an Education Sail that is not included in the list above, we would be happy to discuss tailoring a workshop to meet your curriculum needs. Past examples include shipboard math applications, simple machines/mechanical advantage, navigation, sail theory, knot tying, and Native American history.
Pricing and Availability
We offer discounts and subsidies for groups with financial needs. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (856)785-2060 for availability and a quote for your program. Special pricing is available for multiple sails or when combining a program with a Youth Education Program.