by Joe Horn
Some trees began to change color, Honduras won the annual Wyman’s Cup, and the evening air became crisp and dry as the sun sank low in time for supper. These things and much more marked the end of August and the end of the Blueberry Harvest School (BHS).
From late July through August 2016, MOS staff partnered with Mano en Mano of Milbridge to facilitate some staff teambuilding and professional development, a series of four field trips, and daily outdoor programs which served as a curriculum-tied alternative to what had been physical education in past years. We called this new physical education block “Outdoor Explorations.”
During our partnership with the BHS, our educator, Brooke, engaged students in such activities as shelter-building, exploration of their four “science senses” (hearing, smelling, touch, and sight), finding patterns in nature, identifying plants and insects, ecology, blueberry science, geology, and teamwork—to name just a few. Our “learn and burn” approach to our outdoor programming with the BHS provided students with both physically and mentally engaging activities.
The field trips took BHS students and staff far afield, from Blueberry Hill Farm research center and University of Maine at Machias to the rugged shorelines of Roque Bluffs State Park and Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge to the once-fabled salmon fishing grounds of the Cable Pool on the mighty Narraguagus River. At each location students were able to engage hands-on in their studies while they explored wildlife in their natural habitat and played games that modeled natural systems.
Student learning outcomes marked the success of our collaboration with Mano en Mano during the BHS. One seven-year-old student summed this point up nicely when, unprompted, she exuberantly exclaimed to a visiting principal, “This week we are learning about abiotic and biotic factors!”