This past week I had the great pleasure of driving up the coast to visit the Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde, a wonderful program for middle level learners and their teachers. It is an AWESOME place! Not just because the students overlook the Atlantic ocean while they work, or that it is attached to a cool (warm) greenhouse where they grow the most beautiful hydroponic lettuce, or that they raise hundreds of Tilapia in tanks connected to the hydroponic lettuce, or even that they run a thriving business supplying fresh fish and winter greens to local markets and restaurants. The coolest thing is that they are deeply engaged in rigorous, authentic, hands on, minds on, integrated learning…and they obviously love doing it. It’s a middle level educator’s vision of Nirvana, right in Port Clyde.
The middle school students at Herring Gut Learning Center come from surrounding midcoast area schools. All of the key components of the Maine Learning Results are integrated into their learning as they plan, design, manage, troubleshoot, and sustain a thriving project at HGLC. During my morning visit I observed students applying science, mathematics, language arts, graphic arts, creative problem solving, data collection, teamwork, as well as presentation and communication skills. The faculty of HGLC also provides onsite and residential workshops for students and teachers interested in learning how to plan and develop similar projects at their schools. And that’s not all! They have designed a simple, yet elegant hydroponic system for growing plants and fish in your classroom or home. The kits and workshops for how to use them in classrooms are available for the asking. (I’ll soon be ordering my kit to put into my new greenhouse!) The students and educators at HGLC are always up for visitors. You can learn more by visiting their website at www.herringgut.org