Lessons in navigation

For more than 30 years, we have been changing the lives of youth in Los Angeles County and beyond through our award-winning TopSail Youth Program, a highly interactive educational program at-sea aboard the twin brigantines, Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, out of the Port of Los Angeles, and our three-masted schooner, American Pride, out of Long Beach

Recognizing the extraordinary value of hands-on learning, Captain Jim Gladson – the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s founder, who was a retired science teacher and sailor – designed an innovative program that incorporates every aspect of operating a large sailing vessel to engage youth in a real-world classroom aboard a tall ship. In addition to bringing subjects like science and math to life, the shipboard environment challenges youth to work together, improves communication skills, stimulates critical thinking, builds confidence, and provides a safe environment to address feelings of inadequacy. The experience of learning at sea is an educational adventure that many young students never forget, and it instills a love of learning.

STEM curriculumOur TopSail STEM Program builds on our signature TopSail Youth Program and leverages the STEM framework inherent to our program. Though many aspects of sailing a tall ship fall into science categories, we focus on the ‘M’ in STEM (Mathematics) for our day sail program. We use the navigation component of our program to enhance students’ interest in mathematics. Our navigation curriculum is designed to teach students the basics of simple navigation and how to identify the symbols and data on a nautical chart. In this process, they are introduced to charts, its geometry, and many of its symbols. They use this information to determine a course. During this program, students will also focus on the aspects of mechanical advantage on board a tall ship and the skill of rigging block and tackle. It is here at sea, where students realize that mathematics can have very real and practical uses.

We also collaborate with the teachers and youth group leaders on the program’s curriculum and experiential activities, because they customizable to meet the educational priorities of the school or group. In addition, they can choose to include activities that expose students to physics, marine biology, watershed ecology, plastics in the ocean, and food supply – all designed to reinforce classroom learning in full support of the Next Generation Science Standards. See more details in our Program Brochure.

Contact us for availability and other booking details!

If you have questions, want to check on scheduling/availability, or would like more information about booking your class or group, please contact Alice Taylor, Director of Sales and Marketing, at 310-833-6055 or info@lamitopsail.org. You can also contact Alice for questions regarding contracts and payment.