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Boats by Platt Monfort
Geodesic Airolite Boats
Building boats at school
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Our boats have been build by individual students and entire classes from Elementary through High School

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Our boats have been built by students of all ages. Some schools have made it an annual tradition introducing new students to boat building each year, while other schools have supported individual students. There seems to be quite a range of participants, as some schools have promoted Geodesic Boat building for "exceptional & advanced" students while others have targeted "at-risk" students. Regardless of which bias, if any, each school takes they all report that students are genuinely interested in the process and that participation exceeds all expections. Of course parents who have built these boats with their children have expressed the same success and more often than not continue on to build a second boat.

  A short index of school projects:  
  Photos of four different models built in Dayton, Nevada  
  Story about three Classic 12s built in Homer, Alaska  
  Testimonial about seven Classic 12s built by "at-risk" teens and Big Brothers in Adrian, Michigan  
  Story about the "first" SnowShoe 14 built in Freeland, Michingan  
  A fleet of Nimrod 12s built in Prince Rupert, British Columbia  
  Click here to view a mixed photo gallery of pictures from various schools.  
  One of our High School testimonials can be viewed on the web here.  

Shown below is a testimonial (also listed in our Customer Comments index) submitted by Phil Schmidlin, a grade school teacher in Highland Michigan, who has his fifth grade students build two boats each year.


5th grade School teacher discovers a secret weapon

At the Spring Mills elementary School, Highland, MI. there is a dedicated teacher, Phil Schmidlin, who spearheaded a special project where he has had his 5th grade students build real canoes in the classroom for the last seven years (as of 8/2002, four at the time of this writing).

It proved to be an exceptional program for his students...working together in teams with schedules and goals. Participation by every student enabled them to read plans and feel motivated. They found an opportunity to apply their knowledge and basic academic skills...math/measurement, reading and problem solving that they have developed during their first five years in school

The success of the project was easy to recognize as he watched students self-confidence and self-esteem grow. Many of the students became more organized and self-directed in their approach to learning. The carry over is evident when students begin to improve in other academic areas. Relationships among students in the class became more positive and trusting. Members of class recognize that each person has individual talents that are unique to that person and situation. PRODUCTIVITY within the class is up BEHAVIOR and DISRUPTIONS are DOWN! School is fun and individuals old and young alike learn when they are able to apply their skills in a supportable setting.

Students use hand tools & plans for the canoes designed by Platt Monfort. Schmidlin stumbled on to Monfort’s website (formerly and ordered not one but two different designs! (Sweet Pea and Explorer 14) The boats were built in the classroom without much disruption to the other activities in the room. Phil milled the wood parts at home on his table saw, so the class performed the actual assembly of the boats.

The construction technique is fun and simple utilizing basic skills and ordinary hand tools. Materials are inexpensive and there is no need for elaborate forms, lofting, spiling, planking, sanding and fairing epoxy, etc. associated with other boat building methods. A Geodesic Airolite boat consists of a simple, lightweight wooden framework, braced with triangulated Kevlar roving strands. This tough basket-like frame is then covered with Dacron fabric. This material is similar to sailcloth, except that it is heat shrunk and provides a beautiful smooth hull surface with no darts folds or puckers.

Some students gave up recess to work on the canoe...coming to school early and staying late to get in extra hours. The project has been so successful some children think that it is more fun than recess! This is the 4th year that Schmidlin has conducted his successful courses, building two boats per year.. the principle, Pat Parrish, endorses the project and says "Building canoes is a really nice opportunity for the kids"

The Huron Valley Education foundation grant funded the canoe project..grants were awarded to projects like Schmidlin’s every June. This facilitated the added incentive of possible ownership. Going into the project , the students know that in June, when the boats are completed and the Dacron is sealed with class-approved colors, Mr. Shmidlin draws names out of a hat for two pupils, who will take home canoes.

Copyright 2002-2015 Monfort Associates.

Geodesic Airolite Boats
1327 Bud Davis Road
Newnan, GA 30263


Phone: (678) 850-7876

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