Sitting on a rock, the cold tickles my cheeks and the smell of fresh snow and trees soothes me as I take a deep breath in and listen to the flock of geese passing overhead. I look down at my hands. In one is an Eastern White Pine branch, its long thin needles draping down. In the other hand, a cone sits, its long shape curves over my fingers, and I begin to draw.
This image perfectly depicts how many of my days in the Natural History class have gone by recently. Natural History is the science class offered here at Chewonki and is attended by everyone. It is drastically different than the classic science class because, instead of spending time inside listening to lectures or reading from a textbook, we spend a majority of class time outdoors, learning about the different species and ecological phenomena that take place on Chewonki Neck and in Maine. We spend classes experiencing the natural world and delving into the processes that sustain life around us.
Recent lessons have focused on the unique tree and avian species here in Maine. We’ve spent many hours observing and learning to identify the subtle differences between the Eastern Hemlock, Balsam Fir, and Paper Birch, as well as the Black-Capped Chickadee, the Red-Breasted Nuthatch, and the Dark-eyed Junco. Last field lab, we ventured out into the forest to spend time in The Perch, a tree house-like structure that sways high in the tops of the trees. After observing the forest for a while and taking field notes in our journals, we moved back to the ground to draw a species account of a tree and its cone. This is only a small peek at the many ways in which Maine Coast Semester’s Team Science makes the process of learning into a fun and engaging experience.
Siena, Franklin High School, Corbett, OR