Island Updates

Marine Debris

Pathways 101 Deer Isle-Stonington High School

We had a great time working with students from Deer Isle-Stonington High School’s Pathways 101 program: an introductory course that is focused on developing core skills so students understand the project-based learning principles that guide the Marine Studies Pathway and the Arts Pathway programs at the high school.

Students started the program with a discussion about how they operate in groups and the constructive and destructive behaviors that individuals can bring to the table to hold group work back or help group work move forward.

Students then took on two small design challenges where they competed to build the tallest tower using just 1 meter of tape, 10 pieces of spaghetti, and a marshmallow. They also worked as a group to design aluminum foil boats to hold the most rocks while still remaining buoyant in a tub of water. Both of these activities were an opportunity for students to learn how to work as a group towards a common goal, and figure out their individual strengths within the group.

Afterwards we shifted gears to talk about the issue of marine debris in our oceans. We discussed the sources of marine debris, how long it takes to degrade in the marine environment, and how marine debris can harm marine organisms through ingestion and entanglement.

The group then split into two teams, and we recorded data on marine debris we collected from along Hurricane’s shoreline. Between the two groups we collected over 400 pieces of trash ranging from pieces of fishing debris (buoys, line, and bait strapping ties) to household waste like plastic bottles and food wrappers. One group even returned with a full tire!

The next challenge was for the groups to design a sculpture using the marine debris they collected to communicate a message about some aspect of why marine debris is a problem. Students got inspired by looking at examples of how other artists have tackled the problem including Chris Jordan and Angela Pozzi.

After planning their art projects to include the materials they would use, the message they were trying to communicate, and the design they were planning to implement, students spent the whole morning on the second day working as a group to develop their marine debris sculptures.

One group chose to make a lobster that was choked up with fishing debris, showing that trash generated by the lobster industry can impact the health of the resource it is trying to harvest. The other group built a series of marine organisms entangled in marine debris including some fish made out of plastic bottles with a comb for a dorsal fin, and a seagull made out of bottles and a Styrofoam cup.

We enjoyed working with students to complete their projects and were impressed by how quickly they learned to work together as a team. This program is part of their formative assessment on group work, and we look forward to seeing the product from their summative assessment! We also appreciate their enthusiasm and dedication to help us keep Hurricane’s coastline clean!

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Pathways 101

29 students from Deer Isle-Stonington High School's pathways 101 program came out to Hurricane September 29-30, 2014, for an art-science integrated program focusing on collaboration and group work. Students first spent some time learning about the impact of trash in the marine environment--how marine debris can harm animals through entanglement and ingestion, and how long different types of marine debris can persist in the environment. We then went out to clean up Hurricane's coastline, quantifying what we found by using a cleanup form created by the Rozalia Project. We have been doing beach cleanups regularly this season, but students still found 627 pieces of trash in just over an hour!

After collecting and sorting the trash, we split students into three teams to brainstorm how they were going to visually communicate the problem of marine debris. Inspired by artists like Chris Jordan, Kim Preston, and Angela Haseltine Pozzi, students spent time in their groups determining the materials they wanted to use, the location for their art piece, and the premise behind what they were making. We worked with them to think critically about how their art could be designed to intentionally make a statement about marine debris, and their final projects reflected the time they had taken to be creative and have a clear message.

The first team created a lobster made out of lobster buoys and spindles, and set it crawling in the intertidal, which they said made sense because most of the trash we find on Hurricane's shores is related to the lobster industry. Underneath the buoys that made up the lobster's tail, students wrote out facts about the number of traps Stonington fishermen lose every year and the statistics about lobster debris that has been found on Hurricane Island.

A student reads one of the marine debris facts written under the buoy lobster tail

The second team created a piece that featured a green crab made out of an old boogie board found during their beach cleanup. Because students in this program had also participated in our Eastern Maine Skippers kickoff program, green crabs, an invasive species to Maine, were on their mind. These students recognized that marine debris could also be considered an invader to Maine's coastline--despite our best efforts bringing students out to clean up Hurricane's shores this summer, these students found only 10 fewer pieces of trash than our first group, the Logan School, who came out in May--and trash is ubiquitous in Maine's intertidal, like green crabs.

The third group opted for a more abstract sculpture of the marine debris they collected, and they built it near an old navigation tower at the South end of the island. They wanted to show that marine debris, like this man-made tower, will persist in the environment for hundreds of years. The whole team sat, connected to their work as they presented, to symbolize that they all have contributed to the problem.

We appreciate all of the students help in keeping Hurricane's coastlines clean, and for their creative energy around these trash-art installations!

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