After my experience at the Island School, I came back wanting to incorporate what I had learned about place-based learning into my teaching style. Place-based learning involves learning the subject through an exploration of where you are, your “place.” I’ve done a good job doing this with my Botany classes, since we spend a lot of time outside identifying plants. It’s the botany/biology of Connecticut, and biology is my area of expertise. Although I do a lot outside with my environmental science students, I feel that I have a lack of understanding of the geology and environmental chemistry of our area. That’s why I’m so excited that I signed up for the course I’m taking this term: The History and Management of Long Island Sound: Environmental Issues. Since we live minutes from the Sound, it’s so exciting to be taking a course that’s place-based. Now I’ll have the background I’ll need to better teach my students, and I’ll enjoy the course because it’s so relevant to my life. Ed’s family’s aquaculture business (clams and oysters) is of course dependent on the Sound, and my professor is part of a group that just got a grant to study oysters in the Sound, so I’m very interested to hear about that project.
I already knew that Long Island Sound was formed when the glaciers retreated about 15,000 years ago (actually it started as a lake), but I picked up some interesting points when the professor discussed its formation tonight. For example, 10% of the population of the United States lives within 50 miles of Long Island Sound. Also, the Connecticut River, which feeds into the Sound, has a watershed that runs through all of Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. Essentially what that means is that all of the pollution that finds its way into the Connecticut River eventually ends up in the Sound.
The text for the course is This Fine Piece of Water:An Environmental History of Long Island Sound by Tom Anderson, a local author who may come in to speak to the class. We’ll also take field trips to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk and to Outer Island (one of the Thimble Islands off the coast of Branford), where the Environmental Education program conducts a variety of studies. I’m also planning to take a course at Outer Island this summer to continue my place-based learning adventure and enjoy the outdoors. Ed said he and Chris might even swing by in the clam boat to say hi to my class.