What started as a lesson in buoyancy, turned into one Lucky Lake School teacher’s legacy.
Glen Smith, along with about 30 of his Grade 7 and 8 students, spent hundreds of hours between February and June constructing a replica of the Titanic.
“It’s a special project for me because it’s the last project that I’ll do with the children,” said Smith, who is retiring after 32 years at the school.
Smith says he had been toying with the idea for years. When he announced his retirement last winter, he realized “if we’re going to do it, we better get started.”
“Originally, the idea was just to build a very rough structure just so that we could simulate the sinking,” he said.
It started with a couple of 2×12’s out of the school’s garage, but quickly became so much more than a science experiment.
“The next thing you know, we were painting it and then we built the upper deck levels with all of the cabins,” he said.
Everything is built from recycled materials, including three feet of Smith’s downspout from his house used to create the stacks on the ship.
The replica is roughly a 1 to 100 scale of the British ship, sitting at nine feet long, 13 inches wide and weighing 130 pounds.
It was a cross-curriculum project, which combined all three of Smith’s classes: science, shop and art. He says students learned how to use drills, saws and sanding machines while getting a lesson in teamwork.
“They would work very well as a team together and teach each other how to do these jobs because I was always busy on the front end of the project trying to figure out what’s next,” Smith said.
Over the weekend, Smith and his class took the Titanic out to a nearby reservoir for the final experiment.
While the ship sunk nose first, it happened quicker than they anticipated.
“It was a panic. I was scared that we were possibly going to lose it,” Smith said.
Not willing to lose hours and hours of hard work, Smith jumped in with another student to drag it to shore.
“It was completely full of water and we were just able to barely keep the stacks out of the water. The rest of it was swamped,” Smith said, estimating the water-logged replica weighed more than 500 pounds.
The ship is now cleaned up and back at Lucky Lake School where it will be displayed in the stairwell for years to come. But it’s a bittersweet moment for Smith, as Wednesday marked his last day of class.
“This is what I’ll miss doing — these special projects with such great kids,” he said.