Guest blog post by Science Educator Allison Hren
Each morning, at 6:45, they rolled out of bed, changed into their swimsuits and jumped eight feet down into Penobscot Bay. This was not the first sign that these girls were tough. From acquiring a film of ocean water all over their bodies and hair (the inspiration behind their name, the Salty Queens) to handling lobsters with their bare hands or divvying up tasks and collecting qualitative data about the ocean, they rose to the occasion. Many of the activities they participated in were far beyond their comfort zone, but they pushed through.
Because this was a local program, it was amazing to see the connections the participants had with each other. Every single girl knew at least one of the others, and most knew a few. They were also very connected to the region and came in to the program knowing a great deal about the ecosystem we were studying. Because of their past experiences with science, they quickly began to teach each other how to use the scientific instruments and it was a joy to watch them take charge and be the leaders in the lab and in the field.
From helping our research staff measure and sort scallops in our aquaculture project to making “pulling boat pudding” with Irish moss for dessert, the wide variety of activities and busy schedule on Hurricane Island never stopped them from asking questions and making connections with everything around them. Each time we learned about a new topic, such as buoyancy, they would apply it to, for example, making raft structures in our raft challenge, or thinking about where to find plankton in our plankton tow.
As an educator who often only interacts with a group of students for a few days or weeks at a time, it’s my goal to make sure they are given the tools to figure out problems and answer questions on their own. The PBLC girls took everything I gave them and ran with it, reminding me to continue to ask questions in my everyday life, both at work, or simply when I want to know what plants are surrounding me on a walk around town. I have no doubt they will continue to investigate the world with great enthusiasm.