BATH — Ashton Jacobs had no problem sanding the port side of a not-yet-seaworthy wooden vessel despite his mother and several classmates watching his every move.

Jacobs leaned in closely and meticulously went back and forth with a piece of sandpaper, smoothing out the underside of the Monhegan Island skiff he was helping build as part of the Maine Maritime Museum’s Discovery Boatbuilding Program.

The museum hosted an open house for family and friends of the 20 fifth-graders from West Bath School, who visit the Washington Street museum once a week to construct two skiffs that will be launched in late June.

“Most everything we do in school has something to do with the community, building something or doing a service not just in the classroom,” said teacher Rob Schulz.

The students are split into two groups of 10 with each of them spending several hours every Thursday working in the boat shop, a couple of hundred yards away from the museum entrance. The year begins with building something for themselves, usually a three-legged stool, before moving onto building the wooden skiffs.

Student Matthew Hinds has a leadership role and spent time Thursday going around to the vessels built by both groups watching and lending a hand where he could. He said he enjoys working with all the different tools and with his classmates in such a unique environment.

“It’s genuinely fun to work with wood, and one of my favorite things is doing the sanding,” Hinds said. “It’s a nice break from being in the classroom.”

Schulz said not many of his students came to boatbuilding program with a lot of experience, but most like to be out of the classroom, even if they were not yet comfortable working with saws, cordless drills and clamps.

Hinds said he uses tools at home but doesn’t do a lot with wood, so he’s enjoyed this experience. He said he often keeps the stool he built at the foot of his bed to hold his water while he’s watching TV.

The museum program began in 1996 as a way to teach students about Midcoast Maine maritime history while helping build self-confidence and teamwork. Schulz said West Bath recently received approval to continue the program next year.

Kurt Spiridakis, the museum’s director of watercraft and traditional skills, runs the program and works with three other schools the area. He said the program provides students invaluable experience they just can’t get in a traditional classroom setting.

“They’ll have plenty of time for screens, but this is a time for hands-on, and it’s amazing how everyone has bought into the idea,” Spiridakis said. “The boatbuilding program with the students has really become the focus of our boat shop.”

Everyone in the area used to know how to build a boat, especially all of the men, Spiridakis said, but that has changed, so this program is important because it exposes young boys and girls to the lost art of boatbuilding.

“All these kids going through this program are learning how to build a boat,” he said.

For the museum to continue the program each year, it contracts with schools, which helps pay for the supplies, materials and infrastructure used throughout the year. Spiridakis is the only paid museum employee working with students; but there are typically 4 to 5 volunteers working with students each day.

Schulz said the student-volunteer relationships are awkward at the beginning of the year, but as the school year progresses, things change.

“They build these wonderful friendships with our volunteers that are magical experiences,” he said.

While Ashton Jacobs sanded, his mom Cameron spoke with other parents and watched her son focus on the task despite more than 30 people talking and lingering around him. She said the program is integral in teaching children real-life skills they’ll use whether they grow up to build boats or work in an office.

Ashton is the fourth member of the Jacobs to take part in the Maine Maritime Museum’s boatbuilding program and all of them said it was their favorite day of the week and their favorite part of school.

“There are so many different (things they learn), like math and science, safety, working with machinery and learning from their elders,” Cameron Jacobs said. “They love it.”