By Alexandra Brothers, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / August 25, 2023 Edition
After five years, a boat launched by CBS junior high students from the coast of Newfoundland to Ireland is finally going to make its way back home.
In 2018, a group of students and their teacher at Frank Roberts Junior High constructed a miniboat with the help of Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute and offshore services company Maersk Supply Service. In November 2018, the students launched their boat, the Raven KASTER, off the Grand Banks and three months later it was recovered on a beach in Western Ireland.
Now, two of the lead students who worked on the project in 2018, Kaitlyn Grandy and Stephanie Evans, are preparing to travel to Achill Island, Ireland with their mentor and former teacher Thomas Sheppard to relaunch the boat back to Newfoundland. The boat will carry instruments that will record data about the ocean to send back to oceanographers to study.
The project was reignited when a picture of the miniboat ended up on the Achill Island visitors centre’s Facebook page, said Sheppard. Since then, the boat has been looked after by a team of students in Achill Island.
“They’ve been our connection with the boat,” said Grandy.
Over the past year, the Newfoundland team has been in contact with the students to virtually collaborate on the boat’s relaunch. Grandy, Evans, and Sheppard will finally get to meet their collaborators in person when they visit Achill Island this month.
The Raven KASTER team members were in attendance at the CBS public council meeting on Tuesday. Mayor Darrin Bent asked them to share their plans for the upcoming launch.
Grandy and Evans discussed the jam-packed list of activities they have scheduled for their trip to Ireland. What they are most looking forward to is connecting face-to-face with the Irish Raven KASTER team. The team may also have the chance to meet with Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, Eamonn McKee, while they are there. The team previously met with the Ambassador in Conception Bay South in May 2022. “He’s been a very big supporter,” said Evans.
The Newfoundland team members did not anticipate the large scope of their project when they began it in 2018.
“It’s a project that I had no idea that we were going to be involved in when we first launched the boat… on the Grand Banks in 2018,” said Sheppard. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
Sheppard expressed thanks for all the support the team has received from the Town of Conception Bay South and its citizens.
Grandy is likewise grateful for the opportunity to be involved with the project. While she is not currently studying ocean science in university, she is happy to continue with the project in her spare time.
“The project has just inspired me to keep my eyes open for all different opportunities in science,” said Grandy, “not just ones that are specifically related to my desired field, but also to ones that might be a little bit out of my comfort zone.”
Mayor Bent praised Grandy and Evans for creating a buzz in ocean technology among young people in the community, particularly among young women. The entire council bid the team good luck, presenting them with gifts.
“We’re pretty proud of your project and proud of what you’re doing, and we look forward to following you,” said Deputy Mayor Andrea Gosse.