West View students' ship sails into Norwegian newspaper

At the start of the school year, West View Elementary School fourth grader Zach Dickinson proposed that his class learn about the Vikings, but his idea was vetoed by his classmates.

Then he said to them, "Viking ship. We're gonna make one," and his classmates were sold.

"I didn't want to learn about the Vikings," said Ethan Vechi, 11, who now wants to go to Norway and peruse the museums, "but then it got really fun."

Together, the students built a replica of Norway's famed Oseberg Viking ship as part of their year-long study on the Vikings. It took about eight classes to make the 1.22-meter ship model -- and the Norwegians were impressed.

Martin Richter, Zach's Gifted and Talented Education teacher, said a connection was made with the New Oseberg Ship Foundation, which soon will launch a full-sized replica.

"The director liked our ship so much, he sent the information to Tønsbergs Blad, a newspaper with 110,000 subscribers," Mr. Richter said. The paper published a story about the West View students' project and illustrated it with photos submitted by Mr. Richter.

"I thought it was amazing that we got recognized by the newspaper in Norway," Abby Begler, 10, said. The article also referenced a YouTube video produced by the class designed to teach younger students about Viking culture.

The finished model, on display in a glass case, is made out of paper, metal, masking tape, floral foam and staples. The striped sails are made of burlap, and the oars were constructed with straws.

"Building the Viking ship was the main highlight of the GATE class this year," said Emily Yoder, 10. "My favorite part of it was making miniature people to go inside the ship."

Rebekah Froehlich, 10, has become an expert on Viking ship building. "I learned how they used the wood to make it watertight; they overlap the pieces, which pushes the water away," she explained, noting that in the tradition of Viking women, she made the sail herself. "I liked painting the sail, and it was neat to know that it wasn't just men working on the boats, women always built and mended the sails."


Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com. First Published June 14, 2012 4:00 AM


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