Post by Olivia and Jacque, Program Leads
Last Monday, our final program of the summer began. Eight middle school students stepped off the boat beaming with excitement to spend a week on Hurricane Island. The first day was spent exploring the island on a history hike and sustainable systems tour, while eating plenty of raspberries along the way. The students even practiced using a model derrick, a human-powered crane used to move blocks of granite during the quarry era. The rest of the day was spent learning about what it means to be a naturalist and learning how to use tools such as the microscope, hand lens, and binoculars.
Tuesday started off in the lab, where we discussed the basic anatomy of insects and which kinds of insects are pollinators. This led into the next portion of the morning: a field trip to the South End to see Sam’s honey bees! Sam explained to us the three types of honeybees, how the hive is built, and the steps worker bees take to produce honey. We even tried some fresh honey straight from one of the combs! After seeing the bees up close, we raced back to the lab to grab nets and jars to collect our own bugs. The students headed up to the church and shower house, where they found butterflies and a few large spiders as well as plenty of grasshoppers to chase. Students then drew insects from our own bug collection, and used watercolor to bring the illustrations to life. After a morning on land, we loaded up on the sailboat in the afternoon and hit the water. While there wasn’t too much wind, there was plenty of sunshine and laughter aboard the boat. While sailing, we practiced our knots and caught a glimpse of the seals using our binoculars. The group sailed over to neighboring Greens Island to explore turtle rock and some of the beaches. After dinner that night, we took off for Gibbon’s Point to have our evening meeting while the sun set in the distance.
Wednesday morning was devoted to botany and searching the island for edible plants. Before we set out to hike the perimeter, we went over basic plant parts and ways to group plants to make them easier to identify. This prepped us to look for all the plants we could nibble on as we walked. The students learned to identify many types of trees, shrubs, flowers and ferns, and were brave enough to try any and all of the edibles that were presented to them. Afterwards, we foraged for beach rose, red clover, and raspberries around the island. We then headed to the kitchen, where we whipped up a simple syrup and a raspberry chocolate crumble bars for a lunch time dessert. During free time, we all jumped off the pier and then went fishing off the pier. The afternoon was spent rock climbing in the quarry. Students had a blast challenging themselves to climb different routes on the main face. That night, we fished for squid off the dock (perhaps a Hurricane first!). Although we were not successful catching squid, we played with the bioluminescent plankton in the water. Certain types of plankton utilize chemicals to produce light as a defense mechanism at night. Some plankton even squirt globs of bioluminescent goo to confuse their predators. By moving the water around, you get front row seats to a magical display of lights!
Thursday began with an intertidal exploration at Two Bush Island. Back at the lab, we took a closer look at our intertidal finds, which included a tiny lobster and a very cute lumpfish. We also used delicate species of algae to make colorful seaweed art that students took home with them. Chloe joined us in the afternoon to teach us all about bird adaptations and the kinds of birds we have here on the island. The students learned how different shape and size adaptations make some birds great at swimming while others eat insects on trees! We quietly walked along the shoreline to spot a few sea birds, while also practicing our bird calls. Chloe then challenged us to build a nest that could withstand wind, water and hurricane conditions. Our last night was spent around a warm campfire, where we enjoyed s’mores and sang campfire songs.
The morning of our final day was spent painting birdhouses that were built by previous HICSL students. The students worked in teams to decorate each birdhouse, which will soon be installed around the island. Following our art activity in the morning, the students took off with Olivia and Jacque to tackle a scavenger hunt. We raced around the island in search of hidden clues that brought us to our final riddle: Boomer, our island dog! Saying goodbye to this group was tough, as their enthusiasm for exploring and love for learning was contagious. This group had us laughing, dancing, and singing all week. We hope everyone has a wonderful final stretch of summer and start to the school year!