‘The Floating Classroom:’ Academies of Hampton, students make STEM lab on boat

'The Floating Classroom:' Academies of Hampton, students make STEM lab on boat

HAMPTON, Va. — Hampton City Schools and the Academies of Hampton launched a new project called the Floating Classroom on Wednesday.

In partnership with the Flying Classroom, over 60 students will work over the course of a year to completely renovate a houseboat and turn it into a STEM lab.

“Students with their bare hands are going to come in here and renovate this vessel,” said Veronica Hurd, director of the Academies of Hampton. “Of course, they’re going to be alongside industry professionals, because we want to develop their skill sets as we move along this project. But they are going to be the ones to make this happen for us.”

Outgoing Hampton City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Smith and his soon-to-be replacement, Dr. Raymond Haynes rang the boat’s bell to mark the next phase of the floating classroom.

Up to this point, the students have been working on the business side of things to acquire the boat.

Now, they’ll be working hands-on to remodel the boat, transforming it into a full-functioning laboratory.

“We will have construction students coming in examining electrical, demolishing the walls, things of that nature with a redesign,” explained Hurd. “But then also, we have students that are not necessarily on the vessel, but they’re working on marketing plans, they’re working on the business proposals, the things that also come along with having the Floating Classroom.”

The STEM lab is expected to take a year to complete and once it’s done, students will use the lab to learn how to protect and maintain Hampton Roads waterways.

“It will improve our community, by our students understanding the waterways more appropriately,” said Hurd. “Then also, by understanding what’s in our waterways, we can prevent things from going in there that should not be in there.”

The project brings together students from all 16 wall-to-wall academies throughout the four Hampton high schools. The Academies of Hampton provide small learning communities where students learn within the theme of their academy through hands-on experiences that mirror real-world occupations.

“This floating Classroom brings together all our college and career academies, in the various pathways, in a hands-on learning environment where our students can come together across the division,” explained Hurd. “And, most importantly, develop a real-world marketable and tangible skill set along the way.”

Each student participating in the Floating Classroom will also take home $350.

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