Saturday, July 24, 2010

Teach Kids Sailing and You Teach Them a Boatload of Science.

On the surface, sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing on the Charles River can be viewed as not much more than enjoyable recreations. But for anyone who has spent even a little time trying to master the skills of sailing, it soon becomes apparent that there’s more involved than just a pleasant float-about while a gentle breeze pushes your boat around and you enjoy being outdoors, on the water, sharing time with friends.   Sailing also teaches a lot of science in very basic ways.  This is one of many great reasons for children to learn sailing.  I’ve noticed that a lot of folks who love sailing are also engineers, pilots, and scientists, and more or less take a logical positivist** approach to the universe.  There seems to be a link between folks who like to solve problems with numbers, use equations, statistics and science with sailing.

How does a sail make a boat move the way it does? You’ve got to talk to Newton for that one.  He’ll probably suggest an inspection of his 1st and 3rd laws to start. Can you make a sail or the keel more efficient in certain situations?  Have a chat with Bernoulli.  He has some thoughts on the subject.  Did you know that a sailboat such as one of our R19s, Sonars, or Mercuries, can generally go no faster that 1.34 times the square root of the length of the waterline?  Did you know that to understand this you have to understand how fast waves can travel? Physics, math and engineering are everywhere!   So when you register your child for a summer of sailing at CBI you can take some satisfaction in knowing that they will be learning more than what’s on the surface.   I believe that one reason that learning to sail is good for kids is because it relates to things they learn in science and math classes in school.  At CBI we give tests (ratings check-outs) but they’re a lot more fun than the ones you get in school, but valuable none-the-less..

There are other folks besides the science and math geeks who like to sail, and learn, analyze, understand, and explain it in their own way. They have a different link to sailing.  I’ll offer a few thoughts on them in a future installment.

 **I went online [] and found this definition of logical positivist - someone who maintains that any statement that cannot be verified empirically is meaningless  OR- someone who emphasizes observable facts and excludes metaphysical speculation about origins or ultimate causes



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