Biology students enjoy annual coastal field trip

17 years ago

   PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – “The entire trip was an amazingly fun and educational excursion.” “I had a blast!”  “… one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.” “A very informative, fun time.” These statements described the feelings of students about the 36th annual coastal field trip recently completed by members of Presque Isle High School biology classes.

Sixty-nine students and six chaperones enjoyed a weekend of investigating the life of the seashore during the annual Memorial Day weekend excursion. A PIHS biology department tradition, the trip involved students enrolled in applied, college-preparatory and honors biology.

The purpose of the coastal trip is to provide students with a hands-on experience in investigating a type of environment that is quite different from the central Aroostook environment, but which exhibits ecological relationships identical with those found among the organisms living in Aroostook County.
The students left Friday, May 25, and traveled to Bar Harbor where they toured the Mt. Desert Oceanarium, which featured a salt marsh walk, a lobster museum and a presentation by a lobster fisherman on the biology of the lobster. A large touch tank in another area provided opportunities to handle horseshoe crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers and other interesting and unusual animals. From Bar Harbor, the students went to Ellsworth for supper at local restaurants. The last stop was Rockport, where they spent the weekend at the Penobscot Bay YMCA building.
Early Saturday morning, the group traveled to Birch Point Beach in Owl’s Head where they spent several hours investigating the living organisms of the intertidal zone of the sea. Students discovered that the hands-on aspect of the fieldwork was highly enjoyable and made it easier to learn about the biology of the seashore than if they had to use their textbooks to find information.
After leaving the field site, the group returned to the YMCA for a picnic lunch. This was followed by a bus trip to the summit of Mount Battie, from which there were spectacular views of Camden Harbor and the sea.
Saturday evening, following a pizza dinner, a class was held at the YMCA. During this time, the groups sorted, identified, and classified the many specimens they had collected. As usual, a variety of unusual specimens had found their way into the student collections.
Following class, students spent their remaining free time using the YMCA’s swimming pool, rock climbing wall, gymnasium, and fitness facilities. The final activity Saturday evening was the annual field trip talent show. The acts included several student presentations, which were followed by the chaperones’ chorus of tributes to the students on the trip.
On Sunday, the group traveled to Bangor for lunch and returned to Presque Isle late in the afternoon.
The trip is the highlight of the sophomore biology course at PIHS. As in the past, student comments on a survey after the trip showed strong approval with statements such as, “Great trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” “It was a great experience and I learned so much,” and “I had an absolutely awesome time.”
This ecological investigation is an educational experience that is aligned with many of the content standards and performance indicators of the State of Maine Learning Results. Over six months of preparation by many people preceded the trip. The group took much of its own food, which was coordinated by the SAD 1 food service staff. Generous donations from Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola bottling companies provided beverages. Students pitched in to load buses, prepare and serve meals, and clean up the YMCA facilities.
The trip is the most extensive annual academic trip that is taken by the students of SAD 1, and PIHS is one of only a few schools in Maine to offer its sophomore biology students an experience of this type.