Sixth grade students from Brookwood School in Manchester, MA joined us on Hurricane for a fun-filled 24-hour program (September 17-18, 2015) that helped students kick off their school year as new members of the upper school. We enjoyed showing students some of our favorite parts of the Island and also took advantage of early fall by harvesting apples from Hurricanes trees to make cider.
Other highlights from the program involved a full-group exploration of the low tide area between Hurricane Island and Two Bush Island. Students left few places unexplored and found all sorts of exciting invertebrates including baby lobsters, sea urchins, tunicates, and we also found some lumpfish!
We spent the rest of the program with students in smaller groups rotating to different stations where they learned about maps, the forest ecosystem, Maine’s lobster fishery, and how Hurricane operates off the grid.
At the mapping station, students learned the parts of a map and how different maps communicate different messages. Making their own maps of their advisors classroom, students learned the importance of clear symbols, legends and scale bars in painting a picture of a foreign land. Students then collaborated and got creative as they worked to create a map of their Journey to Hurricane. This activity gave the students a chance to think about where their journey started, what were important landmarks and how best to communicate what this journey meant to them and they did it as a team!
Students also explored Hurricane's forest ecosystem starting with granite. They learned about primary succession and how soil came to be on Hurricane. Then we talked about how different types of plants would have arrived to Hurricane and how we can learn about a lot about a forest through tree rings. After that, we discussed ways wildlife impact the forest and looked for wildlife tracks and scats. Finally, we created a Hurricane forest food web as a team and connected common species of Hurricane to each other based on habitat and diet requirements. Each student was a different species and became directly or indirectly connected to one another through the web so that when one student moved, everyone moved.
During our lobster explorations, students were challenged to draw lobsters only from hearing their classmates describe them. We then talked about how important the lobster industry is to the State of Maine, making up 78% of Maine’s fisheries income last year and how different fisheries have been important to Maine historically. Students took a look at the collapse of the cod industry, and got a snapshot of how global ocean warming and acidification will impact the Gulf of Maine. Students also had a chance to go see our recreational lobster traps get hauled up and more about the mechanics of lobster fishing. There was also some time for students to jig for fish off the dock—where we caught and released a few pollock and mackerel.
At the sustainability stations, we learned about Hurricane’s off-the-grid campus and students also had a chance to really think about what sustainability means. In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. Part of understanding sustainability involves looking at how previous communities on Hurricane functioned: students learned about the human history on the island, form the quarrying era, to Outward Bound and then to our current use of the island. We talked about how each community acquired essential needs (food, water, energy, and shelter) and how we can learn from the past about how we want to live and operate on Hurricane. We also discussed our water system and how we pump and distribute water and where the water ends up after it is goes down the drain, then we talked about food and the cycle of growing food to eating and composting. Some students helped plant beds of hearty spinach and kale in Hurricanes garden that we will enjoy as the season gets chillier out on the island. We finished by talking about solar electricity and the solar thermal system, and the difference between using generators run by fossil fuels vs. photovoltaic panels and the different between the inputs of materials for each.
We had a great time with Brookwood and we hope to see students and classes back out on Hurricane in the future!