Friday, September 10, 2010

Experiential Learning: North Haven School

Each year, North Haven School, Maine’s smallest public school, sends its students on an experiential learning expedition off-island. This year, students will attend a five day timber framing class at the Shelter Institute and build a timber frame classroom for their campus; providing them with life-skills as well as a new super-insulated space for future generation to use. North Haven’s tradition of blending classroom education with real world experience parallels the Shelter Institute in Woolwich, Maine and the two have teamed up to build a classroom and a program that will provide North Haven Students with marketable skills.

North Haven high school students will spend four days studying Timber Frame construction at Shelter Institute. They will learn engineering, design, joinery layout and cutting as well as tool selection and maintenance. At the end of the week they will return to North Haven with the Shelter Institute staff to assemble and raise the 20x20 structure. The new space will house a woodshop, workshop and a greenhouse providing space for boat-building classes, woodworking classes, and an expanded agricultural program.

North Haven educator John Dietter is thrilled with this year’s student expedition: “This project has so many beautiful, interlinking layers, since the students will help to create the space to support future students’ experiential learning experiences. Shelter Institute was the perfect partner in this project; the spectrum of services they have available is amazing. We told them what we wanted to teach our students through this year’s expedition and they made it happen. Every school student should have this opportunity.”
Shelter Institute was founded on experiential education, our organization’s philosophy is to connect the physics of house building with the practice. It is critical that students today see the Pythagorean Theorem in use so that they want to learn it and know how to apply it. In addition, building one’s own space makes a person appreciative of that space. Our hope is that the student involvement in this project will build on the strength of the community.”

Shelter Institute has taught more than 22,000 people how to design, build and live in energy efficient homes for over 35 years. Graduates have gone on to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, construction and design and they renovate, build or simply live more wisely in their own homes -knowledge is a tremendous asset that liberates them.

In addition to providing updated International Building Code information, some of Shelter Institute’s courses are college credits as general credits at the University of Southern Maine. Online registration and more information are available at Send us an email to learn about designing your own experiential learning program at Shelter institute.

Check us out on facebook to see photos of this upcoming week and notes from of the North Haven's students.


  1. Hello

    excuse me for my poor english, i'm french.
    I'm a carpenter and working for sustainable building.
    I just would like to know what type of japanese saw you used during a stage that we can see on a video-Youtube (
    I'm interesting in number of tooth and special angle handle.

    Thank you a lot


  2. Dear Xavier,

    Thank you for your inquiry. The saw featured here is a Zorin. We have been using and selling this saw for timber frame construction for over 20 years and still think it is the best handsaw available. The large teetch cut quickly and allow you to cut both with the grain (a tenon) and across the grain (squaring off your timbers). Here is a link to it on our web site. We have them in stock and are happy to ship anywhere in the world.