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'Miniboat' Built by Rhode Island Students Reaches England After 8 Month Journey

A 'miniboat' made by students from three Rhode Island schools has successfully crossed the Atlantic.

The Inspiration measures just 5-feet long and was built by students in the Central Falls School District in partnership with the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

Building the craft was done in three stages using three different groups of students. The program is designed to get students interested in the ocean while also teaching them valuable skills in design, engineering, and fabrication.

First, elementary students built the hull and keel. Next, a group of middle and high school students installed a series of sensors to measure air and water temperature. A third group finished the boat by adding a GPS tracking system and solar panels to make the Inspiration self-sustaining.

After 8 months at sea, the boat finally turned up in Christchurch, England. It had traveled a total distance of over 9,300 miles (14,900 km).

"This boat was almost a message in a bottle. It had lots of information about Central Falls and about the schools and the children that helped build it," Andrea Gingris, assistant director of public engagement at URI-GSO, told WPRI-TV.

The Inspiration was launched 100 miles off the Rhode Island coast from the R/V Endeavor, a research vessel operated by the University of Rhode Island.

Students tracked the boat and mapped its progress, which showed various twists and turns across the Atlantic. The miniboat was made from a kit from Educational Passages, which has helped create and launch dozens of miniboats across the country.

Earlier this year, a similar boat made by students in New Hampshire turned up on a remote island in Norway. On that trip, the miniboat took a hefty 15 months (462 days) to make the journey across.

But after turning up on a beach in Christchurch in just 8 months (245 days), the directions aboard the Inspiration said to bring it to the nearest school, which turned out to be Tiptoe Primary School in Lymington. The boat was found by a group walking their dogs on a beach in Christchurch, Dorset, in southern England.

Students from both sides of the Atlantic then got together on a video call to discuss the project and tell their stories.

But the journey is not over for the Inspiration.

It is being refitted by the children at Tiptoe Primary (along with some of their own items) and will be re-launched on another adventure.

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