Post by Olivia Lukacic and Chloe Tremper, Program Leads
We were living on the edge this week - exploring all that Hurricane Island has to offer with five awesome middle school students! For the week of August 9-15, we honed our naturalist skills and furthered our understanding of marine and terrestrial ecosystems through lots of art and exploration. The students arrived on a beautiful, sunny Hurricane day and were only on island for an hour or so before our first brave pier jumper took the plunge into the icy Atlantic! The rest of the day was filled with the always fun history hike with a sustainability twist as well as team building games.
Our first full day as a group started off with a bang! Chloe started the day off teaching about bird adaptations and introducing some of Hurricane’s most common bird species. We looked at what types of wings, beaks, and feet shapes would be best suitable for a variety of conditions, challenged each other to a nest building challenge to see whose nest could withstand the most weight, and played a hilarious game of "here I am, where are you." This game is all about trying to find your partner with a pre-determined call while you are both blindfolded and music is blasting all around. We realized how hard it could be for birds to communicate in their environment and how their songs may be adapted to their environment, while also entertaining some of the HIF staff and visitors. In the afternoon, we went with Jacque into the intertidal to learn about how animals and plants adapt in a constantly changing marine environment. We found amazing things at Two Bush Island including brittle stars, sea stars, hermit crabs, three varieties of other crabs, sea urchins, seas sponge, tunicates, and four lumpfish! We brought our species back to the lab to use our observation skills to draw the creatures and look at them under the microscope.
Tuesday was a botany bonanza! We started off with an island perimeter hike to learn how to identify plants in the field and we also collected plants that caught our eye. Back in the lab, we learned how to use field guides - this involved racing to identify plants using the dichotomous key in Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and a tree-detective game that challenged students to describe plants with proper botany vocabulary and match up mystery species to tress listed in The Forest Trees of Maine. The afternoon was our first day of rock climbing! The students learned how to belay and get used to climbing before moving to the big wall. Once at the big wall, the students were climbing machines – completing some of the most challenging climbs with ease! After climbing, we stayed at the rock face for a little bit and collected lichens and mosses to take back to the lab and learn about.
Due to some foggy, wet, and windless weather our planned sailing day on Wednesday turned into an awesome art and building day! The students started off the day building and painting their own bird boxes. These weren’t your run of the mill bird boxes, however - these have a plexiglass back that allow the students to observe the nest building process. Each student constructed, painted, and took home their bird box. Most of the plexiglass was painted over to give the birds’ privacy with viewing holes left unpainted. The rest of the day was spent exploring the world of bugs and learning about the importance of pollinators. We played a super fun pollinator game developed by Olivia and used watercolors to make observational drawings Hurricane’s bug collection.
The next day, after another morning of climbing, the students spend the afternoon with Josie Iselin. Josie is the photographer, author, and designer of seven books all of which focus on the forms in nature we find at hand, especially those found at the beach. Some of her books include An Ocean Garden, Seashells, Heartstones, and Beach: A Book Of Treasure. Upon her arrival, Josie gave a brief presentation to the students and our staff about herself and her work and then we headed into the intertidal with her to explore all of the different types of seaweed Hurricane’s coast has to offer. We had a ton of fun holding different seaweeds up to the sun to admire their colorations and aging knotted rack by its bubbles!
The last full day of Living on the Edge consisted of a morning sail over to Crane Island where we picnicked and explored followed by an afternoon of individual project time! The students were given creative freedom to create a piece of art, or multiple pieces, that related to what they did and learned on Hurricane over the past week. All the projects were AMAZING and very different from one another. Some students worked with washed up buoys from our buoy pile creating sculptures, painting them, and even decorating them with pressed flowers. One student used leaf prints to create a backdrop for the Hurricane flag and another made a three-dimensional topographic map of Hurricane out of cardboard.
Students finished up their projects on the final morning and then completed an island-wide scavenger hunt! The scavenger hunt had the students running all over the island starting off near the galley, heading towards Gibbon’s Point on the north end, then back across the island to points like“the crack,” high cliffs, and the main quarry face. The scavenger hunt ended with some HIF bumper stickers as the prize and a fun cook-out on the south end. It was a great way to end a super fun week. As always we hope the kids had just as much fun as we did and that we see them out on the island next year!