K-12 Education Coordinator
Anneliese “Lili” Pugh, 207-563-8135
The Darling Marine Center K-12 Education Program strives to provide a connection between local school children and scientific efforts of the DMC scientists and the environment of the Damariscotta River Estuary. It is a goal of the program to foster marine science literacy through which students of all backgrounds may be better informed citizens, able to engage in scientific discussions no matter their future occupation. Inquiry, exploration and discovery are the basis of all programs. All programs are meant to enhance individual classroom curriculum and help students achieve Maine State Learning Results and the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards.
Visits to the DMC can be as short as 1-½ hours or as long as the school day, depending on the interests of the group and planned activities. Below are some preset programs available for classroom field trips with suggested program length in parentheses. Also note that Maine State Learning Result standards areas are indicated after the description. These are possible areas that will be touched on during particular programs, but do not represent complete units. Data collected at the DMC can be taken back to the classroom for further investigation.
Most programs work well with groups of 15 or fewer. If there are 20 or more in your group please contact us at least 3 weeks in advance so we can secure staffing. Programs that include boat or shore time will be dependent on tides and weather. We can arrange rain dates when booking programs. Field trips can be customized to suit your needs, but may need additional lead time.
The cost of a field trip ranges from $125 to $325 (includes boat trip) for a group of about 15 students. Thanks to a generous donation from the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund, field trip costs for schools within the Damariscotta River watershed can be defrayed.
- Rocky Coast Investigations (Program length: 1.5 hours)
Explore the rocky shore along the Damariscotta Estuary. Figure out what animals live in this special zone. Survey the shore to see what is crawling on rocks or hiding under algae. Spend time with some live critters in the classroom. Students will interview a chosen animal and determine what makes it suited to the environment and discuss with others what they have found. May or may not involve use of microscopes. (Maine State Learning Results areas: A1, A3, B1, E2)
- Food webs of the Damariscotta Estuary (program length: 1.5-3 hours)
Compare the food webs of two of the habitats found along the Damariscotta River Estuary, the salt marsh and the rocky intertidal. How are they different? How are they the same? Spend time at either both or one of these habitats and then participate in food web related activities. Younger students will learn about the interconnectedness of organisms. Older students will investigate energy transfer from trophic level to trophic level. (Maine State Learning Results areas: A1, A2, A3, B1, E2)
- Shellfish Aquaculture (program length: 1.5-3 hours)
Our region of Maine is known for its fishermen, especially lobstermen. But did you know that the area is also a leader in aquaculture? Damariscotta River oysters are a prized delicacy. Learn about what aquaculture is and what it takes to be an aquaculturist. While at the DMC students will visit the aquaculture lab, learn about some current research, and participate in some hands-on activities. Activities may include learning about plankton’s role in aquaculture, collecting water quality data, and/or a boat trip. (Maine State Learning Results areas: A1, C2, C3, E3)
- Technology of Marine Science (program length: 3 hours)
Marine scientists of all sorts use technology to conduct their research. Whether it is finding out more about lobsters or conducting ocean sensing. Learn about some of the tools of the trade. What is a CTD and how does it collect data? What can we learn from the data it produces? How is an ROV used to see the bottom? Students will use simple tools to learn about ocean sampling and participate in a short research cruise. Appropriate for middle school and high school classes. (Maine State Learning Results areas: B2, C1, C2, C3, C4)
- Essential Plankton (program length: 1.5 hours)
Plankton are the base of the marine food chain. They are important in providing half of the oxygen we breathe. Many are larvae of animals we see on the shore. Learn about these organisms through playing games, collecting samples and observing critters under the microscope. A research cruise or visit to the phytoplankton laboratory (pending availability) can be added on to this program. (Maine State Learning Results areas: A1, A2, C3, E1, E2, E3)
- Marine Taxonomy (program length: 1.5 hours)
Classifying organisms into groups helps scientists better understand relationships, similarities and differences between organisms, and appreciate the diversity of life on earth. Students will learn about classifying marine animals by shape and function through exploration with live creatures. Older students may learn about current techniques used in taxonomy. (Maine State Learning Results areas: E1, E2)
The following can be added on to any of the above programs:
- Research cruise (length: 1.5 hours)
Cruise on the RV Ira C. to collect a muddy benthic sample, look for eagles and seals, and collect a plankton sample. Cruises are subject to boat availability and activities will depend on the tide.
- Student water quality data (.5 hour)
Visiting school groups have been collecting basic water parameter data using simple scientific tools. Join in to add to the database.
- Tour of the DMC waterfront campus (.5 hour)
Have a tour of our facilities to learn a little about the research going on at the DMC. Students will get to see some of the tools and tanks used for research.
- Nature walk (.5-1 hour)
The DMC has many trails that can be explored. Wind your way along Lowe’s Cove to look for wading shore birds looking for a meal on the mudflat or salt marsh. Hike along the rocky shore to a rocky beach where you may find fossils.
- Pre-trip classroom visits
Public and private schools in the Damariscotta River watershed may request a visit from the center. This visit would include an introduction to the DMC and some background information about the field trip topic.
Below are some projects organized by the DMC and other organizations that may be of interest to your students. We are happy to be of assistance in getting started with any of these projects.
- Project DEEP
The DMC K-12 education program, in conjunction with the Damariscotta River Association, is piloting a multi-part educational experience for 4th-8th graders. Participants will engage in an exploration of the Damariscotta River Estuary through preparatory classroom visits, a day-long field trip, and concludes with a presentation of student projects. Through inquiry-based processes and hand-on experiences, the goal is to create an opportunity that teaches science through student-driven learning experiences and offer the students the necessary tools, technology and community support to gather data and make use of this information. Cost of this program is $350. Please contact us if cost is an issue. We may be able to assist you. This program is currently full for the Spring 2013 season. Please contact us if you are interested for the future.
- Vital Signs
Students are encouraged to help monitor invasive species across the state through the Vital Signs program, created and coordinated by Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) in Portland, ME. Students choose a mission, look for species, and collect data to help document the spread of invasive species. Data collection can happen anywhere. The DMC can be your local source for advice if you need help along the way.
- Signs of the Seasons
Signs of the Seasons is a phenology study coordinated by UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, in partnership with the USA National Phenology Network and others. Plants and animals are good indicators of change and rockweed (Ascophyllum sp.) is one of the species the project is tracking. By monitoring the natural history of rockweed it may be possible to link the shifting of its reproductive cycle to changes in climate. Help is needed to collect enough data to find out exactly what is happening and students are encouraged to get involved. Groups can come to the DMC to learn about Ascophyllum. They can monitor rockweed at the DMC or at their preferred site.