Replica Christopher Columbus Ships Spark Learning For Homeschool Students

FORT SMITH (KFSM) - Replica ships of the Niña and Pinta have arrived in Fort Smith and are are giving homeschool students a step back in time.

"It's so amazing," Kaden McGrew, homeschool student said. "I feel like Columbus."

The ships travel 11 months out of the year making stops at cities all over the eastern part of the country.

Visitors can take self guided tours on both ships, including walking on the top deck of the Pinta.

"Basically, we're floating museums," Tom Vaeth, Pinta crew member said. "These two are considered to be the world's most exact replicas of the caravel, which is the style of ship. They're not only the most exact, but the only traveling replicas."

While many people are coming to visit the ships for entertainment, some local families are bringing their kids here as an educational tool.

"I homeschool my three youngest children and we've been studying about this, about the discover of America and Columbus' voyages all year," Natalie Costner, parent said. "It's fun to get to bring my kids to see it come to life."

"We've read a lot about Christopher Columbus' view on the ship," Brittany McGrew, parent said. "This is huge for them to be able to put themselves in Christopher Columbus' shoes. My boys, all I heard was, 'ooh and ahh,' the whole time."

Those on the ships said it's fun for every age.

"We're just as excited as out kids I think," McGrew said. "My youngest is two and she's thrilled about it. I saw people who are elderly that were enjoying it and saying I remember reading about this in school. This just brought it all to life for me."

The ships will be in Fort Smith until Sunday, Nov. 19. Their next stop will be in Muskogee, OK.

For more information about the traveling ships or for a full schedule of all the stops, visit the Columbus Foundation's website.