EXPLORERS: Shearwater Steiner School students floating down the Brunswick River to Brunswick Heads on one of several bamboo rafts.
EXPLORERS: Shearwater Steiner School students floating down the Brunswick River to Brunswick Heads on one of several bamboo rafts. Christian Morrow

Books are closed in life classroom

A GROUP of teachers and students from Year 3 and 4 at Shearwater Steiner School spent last Friday floating down the Brunswick River to Brunswick Heads on several self built bamboo rafts.

Accompanied by teachers and a large flotilla of parents, they made the six-hour journey as part of a study on coastal navigation and the journeys of early explorers.

Many of the children were also inspired by the La Balsas rafts, that in 1973, travelled non-stop from Ecuador to Ballina with no loss of life.

"Experiences like this build resilience in the children and fire the imagination," said Year 4 teacher Sally Davison.

"These are qualities that foster health and intelligence as well as bonding the classes even further through the experience of real adventure."

The children had visited the Maritime Museum in Ballina and saw one of the Las Balsas rafts, Aztlan, that arrived in Australia from Ecuador forty years ago.

"All students had their imaginations ignited by seeing and touching the actual Las Balsas raft in the museum," said Year 3 teacher Harry Brown.

"The children spent several weeks making banana fibre rope, harvesting bamboo and collecting material from palm trees to construct a suitable cabin.

"Many of the children hope to participate with their rafts in the 40 year anniversary of the Las Balsas landing in November.

"One old salt was heard to say their overall Naplan results may have taken a dive due to the excessive amount of fun being had, but the wonderful memories will live long after the spelling tests have been forgotten."

The students and teachers began assembling the rafts at 6am in the morning and set off around 9am from the Heritage Park in Mullumbimby.

The Shearwater rafts were designed to transport around 45 students plus teachers and the school's marine biology cabin cruiser was on standby.



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