Coastal Studies for Girls

Address: 308 Wolfes Neck Rd., Freeport, Maine 04032
Contact: Loraine Washburn
Phone: 207-865-9700

Mission: Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves.

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Ocean Literacy

Principle 1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features
Our Coastal Marine Ecosystems class – a key component of our semester program in science and leadership – touched upon this as well as other OL principles this past semester. This was our inaugural semester, and so we were developing curriculum as well as working bugs out of all aspects of the program. This coming semester I will be integrating all Ocean Principles explicitly into the curriculum, so this will be more explicitly addressed.

Principle 2: The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of the Earth
We had a field experience and subsequent in-class discussion about beach erosion (Popham Beach, Phippsburg ME) and students were taught more generally about geologic dynamics of the shore. We discussed the relevance of this both for native marine species as well for human society.

Principle 3: The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate
This past semester included a unit on global change, CO2 inputs to the atmosphere, and ocean acidification. We could have done more in terms of the whole role of oceans and marine productivity and carbon dynamics of the earth; this coming semester this will be better integrated into the curriculum. We also had a guest lecture by Dr. Nicole Poulton of Bigelow Laboratory which addresses roles of phytoplankton in global carbon dynamics.

Principle 4: The ocean makes Earth habitable
The importance of phytoplankton in oxygen dynamics was addressed as part of our Coastal Marine Ecosystems class. Students also constructed a to-scale time line of earth’s history from the formation of the planet to the presence. Students were impressed by the length of the Precambrian, and the span of time that occurred before the evolution of the blue-green bacteria. This coming semester I will be looking for ways to have more content addressing early earth history and to have better integration about the role of early prokaryotes in generating the atmosphere’s oxygen.

Principle 5: The ocean supports a diversity of life and ecosystems.
We were all about diversity and ecosystems, with primary focus on local biodiversity and ecosystems. We spent much class time in the field identifying species, distinguishing ecosystems and relating the two. We also had many opportunities, through Coastal Marine Ecosystems class and guest lectures, to talk about biodiversity, marine protected areas, and impacts of fisheries on biodiversity,.

Principle 6: The ocean is connected to us and we are connected to it.
In class we had a unit on fisheries, which included a visit to the Portland Fish Exchange, witnessing the auction there and visiting the cooler with fish fresh in from the boats in quantity. We also visited a local fish market. We had ample opportunities to talk about lobster fisheries; our class included one student whose parents fished lobster for a living. We watched The End of the Line, and did a role-playing exercise on fisheries, with students representing fisherman, dealers, chefs, state marine resources dept, national conservation organizations, aquaculturists… We integrated this principle in many ways into our curriculum.

Principle 7: The ocean is largely unexplored.
We would like to include this principle more in the upcoming semester. I would like students to know about hydrothermal vent, cold seeps, seamount communities. We may have touched upon it. We heard a talk by Brian Skerry, NAtional Geographic underwater photography, and watched Disney’s Oceans, which may have communicated this principle, but I would like to do more this coming semester.

Ocean Observing:

As I said, the main use was in the context of our daily log, where we had student eyes trained on the sun, the moon, the waves, the weather, and the tides. For the waves, while local observations at our cove off Casco Bay were encouraged, primarily students were watching the dynamics of wave height and period at a GoMOOS buoy (E6), and relating this to what was going on with the weather. We discussed this periodically, but could have done more with this.