For the public
Every ship has a story to tell.
Ship modeling is not just a hobby for retired old geezers to fill the time. For some, it is a lifelong creative profession. It's also a great (and fun!) way to learn and apply many aspects of STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math. Chemistry, physics, material science, project planning and finance are all involved in ship modeling. Ship modeling also supports the humanities through the historical and artistic research that goes into making any model.
Learning about ships is central to learning about world history, culture, economics, politics--and even agriculture and animal husbandry. Until the mid 20th century, virtually all of the non-indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere came here by ship--whether as explorers, empire builders, immigrants on the Mayflower seeking religious or economic freedom, indentured servants, condemned prisoners sentenced to exile, or slaves on ships such as the notorious Amistad.
It was not only people, however: animal and plant species also came by sea. After "discovering" America on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, Columbus brought the first sheep and beef cattle to the Americas on his second voyage in 1493. Spanish explorer Cortez brought the first 16 horses to Honduras in 1519--the native American breed having gone extinct 8,000 years earlier. Coronado and DeSoto brought more horses and pigs to America in 1540. While Europeans brought chickens to the Western Hemisphere, so did Polynesians-- at least 100 years before Columbus.
Columbus brought sugar to Hispaniola in 1493. Cotton was introduced to Florida in 1556. Early settlers also brought species of vegetables, fruit, and wheat--but the principal winter-hardy varieties grown in Kansas since 1874 came with Ukrainian German Mennonites.
Specially-designed ships have also played a big part in inland exploration and commerce. Viking artifacts have been discovered in Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. Their shallow-draft, easily portaged longships took them throughout Europe and Russia as far as the Black Sea. The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803 that opened up the western U.S. used a 55-foot long galley that could be propelled by towlines, poles, oars, and sails from Pittsburgh, down the Ohio, and up the Missouri rivers as far as the Dakotas, smaller boats carried the expedition to the Rockies.
The economies of European powers and the United States were built by merchant shipping, and sea power has played a key role in winning and keeping the peace. In 1890, Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan published The Influence of Sea Power upon History, a book that spawned a great naval arms race and led to the emergence of the U.S. as a leading maritime sea power with Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. It is no wonder that U.S. presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy proudly displayed ship models in the Oval Office.
In addition to traditional fabrication methods like woodworking, resin and metal casting and machining, modelers use some of the latest equipment such as laser cutters, 3-D printers and computer modeling. R/C (radio control) modelers develop a knowledge of electronics. Many modelers are skilled photographers as well. WSMS members have much knowledge and many skills that they are willing to share.
Contact us to see how we can get your organization or class--at any grade level--engaged in a hands-on learning project to support your educational objectives.