Island Updates

Expanding Horizons in Advanced Marine Biology

Blog post written in collaboration with Teaching Assistant Sammi Clark.

This summer, Hurricane welcomed the high school students of our Advanced Marine Biology program. These students spent two weeks on Hurricane, designing their own research projects and exploring the island. We began by reviewing the scientific process, and jumped right into an initial step: observation. Whether we were noticing sea stars and sea urchins in the intertidal, hauling lobsters from the island traps, scallops from spat bags off the dock, or kelp from the aquaculture site, students naturally began to move on to the next phase of the scientific process: asking questions. Where does rockweed grow best? Do urchin tube feet strengthen with age? What sorts of habitats do tunicates prefer? Where will we find the highest concentration of green crabs or periwinkles? These questions led to hypotheses and data collection throughout Hurricane’s intertidal zones.

Before dinner one evening, our staff challenged students to sit with scientists visiting the island. One student embraced this by exclaiming, “Expand your horizons!” For the remainder of the program, this mantra was incorporated into social interactions as well as data collection and team challenge activities. The mantra encouraged students to push past their comfort zones and grow. Luna, a typically quiet student, expanded her horizons by socializing so much with students, staff, and visitors, that she lost her voice!  The mantra really came in handy during rock climbing; Kayla inspired everyone with her relentless determination as she spent thirty minutes attempting a tough section of the rock.

Students expanded their horizons in their data collection as well. They focused on details in the intertidal zone to put their hypotheses to the test. Anna, who was studying rockweed, found a 17 year old specimen - older than she was!


Happy to see so much rockweed!

On the last full day of the program, the island community gathered for the Advanced Marine Biology project presentations. The captivating presentations displayed not only the students’ understanding of the scientific process, but also their creativity. Rowan, who studied how urchins decorate themselves with rocks and seaweed, made a poster complete with urchin-shaped pie charts and the title “Extreme Makeover Urchin Addition.” Lauren, who studied periwinkles and their preferred cardinal direction, collected a bucketful of periwinkles as an additional visual aid, and was lighthearted and flexible when they started to escape during her presentation!

Seeing students excel outside of their comfort zones was rewarding to us as educators. Each evening, our group gathered on the pier to review the highlights of the day.  Sitting among the afterglow of sunlight on the expansive horizon, we reflected on our students’ continuous efforts to expand their own horizons for the duration of this two week program.




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