The Frisian Maritime Museum is charming for children

These three bags must now be repaired, because they were used by about two thousand children. At the moment, the number of schools visited has reached eighty. The bags are part of an educational program developed by Anke Roorda and Merijn van Veen, educational staff at the Fries Scheepvaart Museum. These or one of the five enthusiastic volunteers visit primary schools in Friesland at least twice a week

Born out of necessity

The primary school visit was born out of necessity. It grew up because schools could not come to the museum because of Corona. Each year, the teaching staff creates a program that aligns with the school’s curriculum.

“We really developed something when we got a question from Schoolkade in Leeuwarden, a broker in schools’ programmes. They heard we developed something using technology for young children – grades 1-4. Filling out tech classes for this age group is difficult for many schools. They have Lego and Kapla are in class, but that’s it. Teachers find technology lessons important, but they have neither the time, nor the background, nor the methods. They love that there are providers like us. That way they get an hour of art education at home.”

“You have to surprise the kids.”

The great thing about the massive collection of the Fries Scheepvaart Museum is that there is always something in the house for young people. “In this case, we achieved a combination of technology and shipping. The contents of the three bags that ‘Team T’ checkout mainly contain material related to the shipping chronology.”

Thanks to their years of experience, Anke and Marijn both know what works for children. “You have to surprise the kids. If you’re surprised, you want to know more. We’ve incorporated all the senses into our program as much as possible. Say something, do something, taste something, listen again. Most by doing, because we know kids’ stress is low” . Anke and Marijn say that children, as well as their parents, are oriented to the digital world. “There is nothing wrong with that per se. If you are talking about the solar race, you can directly search for a video via Digibord. But in our volatile society, stories help solidify knowledge. Thus, the challenge in storytelling is to retell the stories in a way that Children are drawn into the story.”

concrete boat

Lesson focuses on buoyancy, sinking, hydro, wind and solar energy. We ask, “How did people move on water so long ago?” This way we get to a canoe made of wood and one made of concrete. What happens if we put it in a bowl of water? Why does one sink and the other float? Then we move on to the sailboat. People are tired of sailing in a boat. Then it is good to have a boat where the wind helps you. So the children assemble a sailboat during the lesson.

“I have to go shopping, how much can I take with me?” is the next question. Children can put stones on the sailboat until it sinks. Next comes the steamboat. Children are allowed to heat water in iron boats using tea lights. Suddenly the boat starts sailing. It’s magical every time.”


We will continue to operate container ships that can transport more and more goods. With a picture of a container ship we show that the shipment can drop. Some older kids remember MSC Zoe. Below is a photo of a solar ship; Kids can make it themselves out of a fan, a solar panel and wires. If we put on a building lamp, the “sun,” the propeller will spin and the boat will sail. When the sun goes down, it stops turning; More magic. “

After the art lesson, the children receive a family card. Upon presentation of this card, they can go to the Fries Scheepvaart Museum with the whole family for free. The procedure is going smoothly, according to the educational staff. “After the weekend, we can see on the skewer at the entrance how many people used it.”


The experience of the last academic year made the teaching staff “enclosed” in the technological aspect. The theme for the lower classes for the upcoming school year is: “We are building a boat.” “We will research old crafts again and from there we will continue with new technologies. We bought a laser cutting machine, with which you can make building boards. We also want to use a 3D printer. 64 groups have already booked this topic.”

And what happens to used bags this year? They go with one of the volunteers to her grandchildren in The Hague. How beautiful is that? “

Text and photos: Remy Van Dyck

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