A beautiful summer day, engaging volunteers and, most especially, enthusiastic students combined to make the June 10 Drinkwater Elementary celebration of Earth Day a truly extraordinary and fun daylong event.
The students themselves repeatedly demonstrated a broad general knowledge of the natural world reflecting the School’s commitment to cultivating an understanding and appreciation of the abundant life in our environment. The school is located on the shore of Penobscot Bay in Northport.
Naturalist educator Cloe Chunn and 21 knowledgeable Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition volunteers divided the day so that every student was able to rotate through all study areas: Butterflies; Tide pools; Skulls and Bones; Sun Power; Spiders; Inhabitants of Vernal Pools; student enacted Eco-skits conveying information about animal migration; and Story Time, a magically ‘propped’ oral explanation of complex topics of photosynthesis and summer solstice.
In the tidal pools students classified specimens according to edibility (mussels, clams and periwinkles) or not: green crabs, bleh and invasive. In ‘skulls and bones’ all had a chance to touch, feel and learn about herbivore v carnivore jaws. Students already versed in monarch butterfly life stages were eager to learn that the butterflies all have strong magnetic components in their front antennae, drawing them to one particular mountain area in Mexico during their annual migration.
In Sun Power students tried out the fourth grade solar powered cars (and some eagerly anticipated making their own when reaching 4th grade); made sun prints, the earliest form of photography, and used easily constructed solar ovens to heat food. Students constructed spider webs (orbs, funnels, triangles) out of sticks and yarn and stacked drying racks full of paintings of turtles, frogs and salamanders who inhabit our vernal pools in the springtime.
Earth Day at Drinkwater School was truly a busy, active, joy filled learning experience for all-- including the adults who were privileged to participate. Hmm... how about such a similar well organized enriching Earth Day celebration for the adults in our communities as well? Hmm... how about it being shepherded by the young folk whom we are blessed to have living among us?
Ridgely Fuller of Belfast