Shipbuilding Students Construct Popham Colony Exhibit

What did you do with your summer vacation? Top this: A select group of Morse High School students in Bath began constructing a historically-accurate replica of the very first English-built ship on the entire North American continent, the Virginia, under the Maine’s First Ship project. Virginia is the pinnace, built in 1607-08, on which colonists, abandoning their post at Fort St. George (in present-day Phippsburg), traveled back to England.

Students in the shallop built last summer under the Maine's First Ship organization.

You can read about the students’ progress this summer–the first of four required to complete the Virginia; last year students built a shallop–on the Maine’s First Ship blog. But not only did they get started this summer building the ship’s frames, a “media crew” of four students also participated in creating a virtual exhibit on the Popham Colony for Maine Memory Network under MMN’s Community Mobilization Program. Students participating in the Virginia and Popham Colony projects receive academic credits for their work.

A student works on building a tool box to house his shipbuilding tools.

Starting in June with fairly straightforward carpentry projects–like building tool boxes in which to house the tools they would need for shipbuilding–the students progressed through more and more complex tasks by the time the summer program ended on August 24.

Meanwhile, the media crew visited the Maine State Museum, where many of the artifacts unearthed from the Popham Colony in several different digs, reside. And they set about writing the exhibit’s narrative and selecting a variety of images to include in it.

The ship's keel. A formal "keel laying" celebration took place on July 3. For details, visit http://virginiamfs.blogspot.com/2011/07/keel-laying-of-virginia.html.

Final touches to the exhibit are being done by the project’s leaders–Merry Chapin and Patti Irish–and will be available for the all the world to read on Maine Memory this fall.

While the students who worked on building Virginia this summer will have to wait four years to see her fully realized, at least they can claim their online exhibit as a bit of “instant” gratification.

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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