South Bristol 5-6 students come out of the classroom and into nature

South Bristol 5-6 students come out of the classroom and into nature
teacher and students on Witch Island

South Bristol School math and science teacher Jason Bigonia teaching a math class on Witch Island

The above title is from an article written by Violet Bailey and Willis Colby (grade 6), who go on to report, “Witch island is one of the greatest places to experience nature at the fullest! The island is a perfect balance of nature. The ocean and the forest will motivate any kid. Learning about nature is so perfect!”

“The 5th and 6th grade students traveled by boat every day for a week to Witch Island in South Bristol,” wrote Tyler Blanc and Quintin Esparza (grade 5).
“They learned about the Wabanaki and their religion as well as what they eat and how they live. The students got to eat Indian cucumbers, mint, seaweed, and sea pickles.”

At the end of September, Damariscotta River Association (DRA) hosted the 5th and 6th grade class from South Bristol School (SBS) for a week on Witch Island. All the students’ regular classes were held in the woods or on the seashore, with math, writing, history, art, music and physical education creatively integrated into nature exploration.

students watch birds from the boatThough just a short boat ride from the South Bristol town landing, the quiet, uninhabited island can seem worlds away from the classroom. The students observed the resident bald eagle in its nest, learned about edible woodland plants, and studied biodiversity on the beach.

Launched by funding from the Lincoln County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation in 2015, and sustained by DRA members and supporters, the Island Ecology program has been enthusiastically received by students, parents and teachers alike.

“Witch Island is a dynamic place, between the rough ocean and the calm harbor, and the kids were so excited to explore it,” observed DRA Executive Director Steven Hufnagel. “But what I love most about the program is that it creates a connection between their learning in school and their own backyard. And because of that, it gives more meaning to both.”