2016-11-11 / Front Page

Students learn geology at Giant’s Stairs

Times Record Staff

STUDENTS FROM HARPSWELL COMMUNITY SCHOOL learn about the Giant’s Stairs on Bailey Island. 

Not all learning happens in the classroom.

For about two years, the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust has partnered with the Holbrook Community Foundation to bring children out of the schools and into nature for hands on learning. The Holbrook Education Initiative has a number of facets, from in class lessons and projects to field trips all around Harpswell.

“The work that land trusts do is forever. It has to be. We’re protecting land so that it will be available forever. And the only way that you can do work that lasts forever is if you have supporters forever. So, it’s really important to the land trust that the kids who grow up in Harpswell have some sort of connection to nature and the natural and cultural resources of Harpswell,” said Julia McLeod, Outreach Coordinator at HHLT.

In many ways, McLeod says her job is to provide science programming that has been abandoned in the schools and connect it to Harpswell.

“There is so much that teachers are expected to do, that they don’t always have the time to come up with and implement high quality science programming. Science is one of the subjects that is being, to some extent, left by the wayside in public schools,” said McLeod.

McLeod has worked with teachers at Harpswell Community School to create activities that fit in with the science standards they have in a hands on way that interacts with the community they live in.

“Coming outside for science is always awesome. It gives them in the field, hands on learning. It’s awesome that Julia from Harpswell Heritage Land Trust is able to work with us to make this happen and bring lessons into the classroom. It really links the community that we’re living in with what we’re learning in school, and it’s relatable for the children,” said Elizabeth Harris, a teacher at Harpswell Community School.

On Thursday, McLeod took the 3rd and 4th grade classes to the Giant’s Stairs to learn about geology in the real world. The Giant’s Stairs are a natural formation on Bailey Island that appear to form large steps, and are an excellent opportunity to teach children about rock formations.

Once at the Giant’s Stairs, the students separated into groups to explore the unique sight and the surrounding rocks. Working together, the students examined the various rocks, observing slight differences to determine which type of rock each one was. After a half hour climbing over and exploring the rocky shore, the groups gathered together to talk about what they’d observed and what they learned.

With McLeod’s help, they learned about the how those rocks were formed in different ways over hundreds of millions of years ago. After learning about the timeline, the students walked a distance representing the time it took for the Giant’s Stairs to form compared to their own lives.

“I think it’s so wonderful to come out to a place that is part of our community and for the kids to learn about geology and how rocks are formed. The Harpswell Heritage Land Trust has added so much to our school in terms of providing programs like this one,” said parent and chaperone Allison Smith.


Return to top