Schodack Central School District

1477 South Schodack Road, Castleton-on-Hudson, New York 12033
T: (518) 732-2297 • F: (518) 732-7710
Jason Chevrier, Superintendent

Solar Powered Boat Built in Bus Garage Launches on Hudson River


The 40-foot solar powered boat that was built in the bus garage by one of the district’s business incubators officially launched onto the Hudson River on May 13 where it will help demonstrate that solar powered boats are a practical option.


Retired RPI professor David Borton led the construction of Solar Sal, which provided numerous hands-on learning opportunities. Students helped build the boat, created art to decorate it, learned about photovoltaics that powered it and benefited in many other ways.


“This project has everything educationally,” Mr. Borton explained. “It has engineering, art, math, physics and solar energy. There’s chemistry with batteries used to store solar energy, mechanical energy to move the propeller and the boat has momentum.”


Mr. Borton brought his project to Schodack CSD after hearing Superintendent Bob Horan speak at an event where he pitched the district’s business incubator initiative. The district currently has five business incubators occupying space in school buildings in exchange for providing real-world learning opportunities for students.


When there wasn't enough room in the school basement to build the boat, the district cleared out a bay in the back of the bus garage where Mr. Borton and volunteers built the boat over the school year. Middle School students in particular grew attached to the boat as they helped work on it with guidance from Mr. Borton.


“I think everybody needs that hands-on experience,” Mr. Borton said. “It gives you more appreciation of how things work.”


But student learning wasn't limited to working on the boat. Mr. Borton visited the High School’s AP World History class, for example, to discuss the direction of renewable energy.


“Mr. Borton provided a historical overview of power because we’re studying the industrial revolution,” explained teacher Sue Wollner. “It becomes more real for students to see a project that will be used on the Hudson River because we’ve spent a lot of time talking about local history, trade and travel on the Hudson River and the Erie Canal."


Mr. Borton plans to travel the Hudson River and Erie Canal on the boat to illustrate the practicality of solar power. He hopes to replicate copies of the boat using the one built in the district's bus garage.


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