In 2010 and 2011, teachers from RSU 13 spent four afternoons participating in a marine science workshop that included shoreline investigations and center-based hands-on sessions matched to their classroom curriculum or personal learning interests.
How did participants describe their workshop experience?
"Very informative...I learned a great deal in a short amount of time...a good balance of classroom and field experience."
"I teach multi-age special needs kids...the content will be easily adapted for my group."
"Very exciting! I now want to write a grant to incorporate what I learned at Herring Gut in my classroom next school year."
This April and May, the Herring Gut Professional Development Institute led an educator training series for kindergarten through fifth grade elementary teachers in the RSU 13 school district. Teachers had the opportunity to attend a 1.5 day training workshop with a focus on aquaponics.
The four educators who participated in the workshop were Lorraine Falla of Cushing Central School, Kitty Maynard of the St. George School, Rosemarie Richter of South School in Rockland, and Ruth Smith of Owl's Head Central School. They each utilized the workshop to become more connected with the resources along the Mid Coast and to discover new ways to make science enjoyable and relevant. Additionally, the participating teachers constructed fully functional aquaponics systems for use in their classrooms. Finally, each attendee planned a field trip for their class to visit Herring Gut and led an interactive lesson on marine ecology and aquaponics with the help of Herring Gut staff.
The post-workshop field trips incorporated a range of activities to introduce a total of over 50 students to the many components of HGLC. Lorraine brought both her current second grade class as well as her upcoming second graders to Herring Gut for a morning of marine activities. Ruth brought her fourth grade class from Owl's Head for a morning at Herring Gut and then to the St. George School for an afternoon outdoor adventure. Kitty brought her 26 fifth graders to HGLC and also led the exciting and educational hike at the St. George School for Ruth's students. Rosemarie also brought her fourth graders for an exciting tour and educational experience at Herring Gut. Some of the activities for the wide range of grade levels included examining tilapia specimens and samples using tools and microscopes, playing informational games about aquaponics and marine ecology, and touring the aquaponics lab, oyster hatchery, and greenhouse for students to experience the larger scale system first-hand.
The professional development series successfully introduced elementary educators from the local communities of RSU 13 to the world of aquaponics. Implementing systems in their classrooms will expose current and future classes to this exciting form of sustainable food production. The workshop also incorporated a unique opportunity for classes who had recently acquired their classroom aquaponics kits to examine the full-sized system at Herring Gut and become better acquainted with ins and outs of combining aquaculture with hydroponics and marine science with fun.