See For Yourself

Each group of middle school students begins with four sheets of marine grade plywood, a set of plans, and basic hand tools. Students work together throughout the school year to build their own Optimist pram. At the end of the school year each class launches and sails its boat in the New York City harbor in an unforgettable celebration of accomplishment. 


1. a curriculum that emphasizes cooperation, perseverance, and craftsmanship

Each class of 12 students must work together throughout the school-year to build one Optimist pram.  This requires sustained cooperation, often learned over time through multiple class sessions.  Students see the completed result of their hard work at the end of the school year: a sea-worthy Optimist- now that takes perseverance!  Our focus on hands-on activities and reinforcement of best practices means that our students gain a real understanding of the meaning of craftsmanship. 

2.  boat building expertise

Founded by Brooklyn-based naval architects Carl Persak and Jeremy Wurmfeld our program is designed to replicate boat building techniques used in shipyards throughout the world. Students learn to work from blueprints, and use marine tools and materials. Students are also responsible for every aspect of the boat building process, ensuring that they learn from their mistakes and take ownership and pride in the successful completion of each phase of the boat build.


3. a community that is passionate about teaching young people

Brooklyn Boatworks volunteers, instructors, and teachers are motivated by a desire to see young people thrive and grow through the process of building an Optimist pram.  Using a wide variety of hands-on activities and teaching methods our instructors ensure that all students, regardless of their differing learning styles, leave our classrooms with more confidence, knowledge of STEM subjects, and tools for future success.


Working inside New York City middle schools and educational organizations, Brooklyn Boatworks offers a unique boat building program that builds students' skills and encourages positive behavior development. 



Our curriculum challenges students to build skills and and use new tools.  By the end of the year, students are developing their own best practices and taking ownership for their accomplishments. 


Developing Leaders

Each student participates in a Captain of the Day exercise at least twice throughout the school year. As Captains, students lead their peers in boat building and write a reflective blog post that appears on this website.  For many students this is the first time they have been given responsibility for managing a project and leading a team.


reinforcing S.T.E.M. SKILLS

Brooklyn Boatworks runs programs in a variety of schools, including those with few to no STEM-related after-school programs. 

Blog Highlights

There are many ways to get involved!



Do you seek a rewarding way to teach STEM subjects to middle school students? We're looking for  program partners.


Are you looking to give back and gain experience? We are often looking for assistance in the classroom or the office. 



As a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity of our donors.  Donations are tax deductible.


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