On Hurricane Island we are working to give students as many opportunities as possible to be involved in real science projects that are relevant to their community and world. We believe that students should have a solid understanding of the process of doing science, and develop skills to work collaboratively and build on their natural curiosity by improving their ability to ask questions, quantify the world around them, and critically defend their ideas with evidence.
We recognize the intrinsic value of islands as a teaching tool: island communities are resilient and creative, often making do with limited resources. The skills and mindset inherent to being an islander are innovative and precisely what the world needs from future scientists—skills that enable people to think ahead and be adaptive. Islands also operate on a manageable scale. When we can conceptualize and solve a problem on an island, we may have a better understanding of how we can scale that solution to confront larger problems that face this planet.
We emphasize hands-on field work, engineering, and design in all of our programs. We want students to feel empowered in their ability to construct and critique design: from the design of a scientific experiment to the design of a solar panel. If we expect students to change the world, we have to help them feel confident and using the tools they need, and that what they are learning is useful, relevant, and has an implication for action in how they live their lives and affect change in their communities.
We also choose to teach topics that are relevant to students daily lives: we concentrate on local organisms that connect students to the place they live, and give them resources and opportunities for independent follow-up in their own backyards should they get excited about learning for the sake of learning.
Our goals is to help students re-ignite their passion for bettering the world around them by connecting them to the natural world, and, through that connection, give them a tangible reason to want to protect it.