educational passages

The Rye Riptide washed up on the shores of Norway.

This story brings a whole new meaning to the word friendship.

In October 2020, the middle schoolers of Rye Junior High, in Rye, New Hampshire, bid a bon voyage to their handmade mini-boat, which set sail off the coast of New Hampshire to who-knows-where.

Measuring only 5.5 feet, the “Rye Riptides” was indeed a small ship. It ran crewless, but carried a bountiful cargo of colorful artwork made by students, along with a GPS tracking device that reported the boat’s location … sometimes.

Cut to 462 days and 8,300 miles later, and what started out as a simple science project became a surprise discovery for some Norwegian sixth graders, and a fun new connection across the Atlantic.


Rye Junior High had partnered with Educational Passages, a nonprofit organization that aims to connect students around the world to the ocean and each other. Once the kit arrived, the kids started building while learning about ocean currents, science and math. However, science teacher Sheila Adams shares that the more artistic, right-brained activities equally found their way into the curriculum. “The students needed to use their writing skills to inform others about their mini-boat project, describe our school and town to people of other languages, just in case, and write requests to get the boat deployed,” she said in a release.

…not me feeling jealous of some middle schoolers right now…

COVID-19 nearly threatened to knock the Rye Riptides off its course. The boat had been constructed, but not yet decorated, when students were moved to taking class online. Then, there was the matter of launching the boat. Which Cassie Stymiest, director of Educational Passages, noted was “challenging with all the restrictions in place.” Luckily, creativity, resourcefulness and a little technology saved the day. Working remotely, each piece of art was done at home, then scanned, printed and made into a collage. Then, Ms. Stymiest connected with the Sea Education Association (SEA), which set the Rye Riptides on its journey.

Seriously, my inner child is geeking out with this stuff.

Would the boat make it to Europe? Rye student Solstice Reed wasn’t so sure. “Honestly, I thought it would sink,” she admitted to the Portsmouth Herald. Considering the boat was cruising the ocean waters during hurricane season, the skepticism was well-founded. During the more tumultuous periods, the GPS signal only came in intermittently. And for a long while, there was nothing but radio silence.

But then, at long last, on the small Norwegian island of Smøla, the Rye Riptides successfully made it to dry land. Sure, it was a bit dismantled and covered in barnacles, but inside, all the adorable trinkets remained intact. The Smøla students peered with wonder into their bounty of photos, signed facemasks, fall leaves, acorns and state quarters, gifts sent out almost two years ago.

The voyage of the small boat has gone viral in a big way, sailing across social media, and making headlines. And now, Educational Passages plans on facilitating video meet-ups between Rye Junior High and the school in Norway, “to continue building this new relationship to learn from each other and about the shared Atlantic Ocean between them.” Plus, NPR reports, the students of Smøla would be writing a letter to their new American friends.

Human connection found its way across the sea in the most wholesome and magical way. It’s really cool to see that educational programs like this exist, impacting both the hearts and minds of young students. Mission, successful.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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