Science at Maine Coast Semester
The discipline of Natural History is embedded within much of our work and daily life at Maine Coast Semester. Our work in the classroom and on lab is supported by our community’s culture of observation, which is evidenced by the experiential nature of our outdoor skills curriculum and English students sensory writing exercises informed by place. For those students taking Environmental Issues or Art and the Natural World electives, many of the ecosystem analysis and scientific illustration skills taught in Natural History complement the content and scope of these courses.
Natural History of the Maine Coast
Required, Prerequisite: None
This science course provides students with a hands-on, place-based examination of the complex biotic and abiotic interactions that occur within coastal ecosystems. Weekly field labs are designed to complement work in the classroom. Labs include, but are not limited to, rocky intertidal zones, sandy shores, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, ponds, streams, bogs, and forests. During the semester students hone their powers of observations and description and develop an in-depth understanding of Maine coast’s natural history.
Students can expect to attend a minimum of three class meetings per week, as well as a weekly five-hour field lab and an additional hour per week recording observations of the natural world from their unique phenology site.
A variety of assessments during the semester are used as a means for providing feedback to students regarding their mastery of essential knowledge, concepts, and skills. This can include weekly species quizzes build familiarity with the organisms present in each ecosystem we study; review reading checks; weekly field journal entries; phenology observation sites and a field final exam.
Students will work with a variety of texts and readings in this course, including excerpts from field guides, peer-reviewed articles, and classic natural history texts that focus on description and interpretation of the natural world.
Heinrich, Bernd. Winter World and Summer World
Marchand, Peter J. North Woods
Peterson, Roger Tory. A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America
Shumway, Scott W. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Atlantic Seashore
Wessels, Tom. Reading the Forested Landscap