Penikese Island Field Trip and Educational Experience

BY Lucinda Bourke-McKay 

Quashnet Elementary School (Mashpee)

Project Description

We are piloting this new field trip to broaden our experiences and match the Next Generation Science Standards, and Social Studies particularly in the field of Immigration, cultural diversity, and how it impacted Massachusetts.
The goal of this trip is to provide fourth-grade students at Quashnet School with a unique one-of-a-kind field trip far enough into the year where they could successfully apply the many scientific standards they have learned, and apply them in a STEM format on Penikese Island.

The objective is to apply in small group, in a very captivating, historic, and appropriate setting all the experiments and cultural knowledge we have acquired and see the actual location of a Leper Colony, and hear the accounts of its occupants presented to us. Our rationale is that we are in the unique position to be the first public school to embrace this unique opportunity. It may also lead to cementing better ties with the WHOI Scientific community to bring STEM to life for our students.

Additionally, we have many other activities we would do such as; Use bird books, and track the local unique bird species; this connection with Mass Audubon to assist with this as Penikese is a Bird Sanctuary.  The Educational Coordinator Mr. David Kooharian could explain the impact of the leper colony and connect it to our knowledge of immigration and the infirmary at Ellis Island. The names in the cemetery there would also broaden our knowledge of different nationalities who came.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)?

We would do a lot of classroom work on our Science Curriculum particularly in the field of Earth’s Systems: 4ESS2-1 Weathering and Erosion, Impact on the environment. 4ESS2-2: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s Features.  We have created lessons for these and use the MA Model Curriculum for this field of study. We have rubrics for task performances and we could certainly create a series of experiments and carry out investigations on structures near the water’s edge to gauge how effective they would be near moving water. We would have a cartography station for map making from hill summit and match to an actual satellite image, efforts would be clear and measurable. Students would be on a small enough finite space; the island of Penikese to do this successfully with a simple checklist.

We would also build a historic background about Bartholomew Gosnold and others who visited the island, discussion, and review activities would follow. It could also involve role-playing and dramatization for speaking and presenting skills. After the trip all fourth grade teachers would meet in our fourth grade PLC (Professional Learning Community) and gauge its impact on attaining our educational goals in both science and social studies and discuss how effective it was in meeting specific standards above. We would certainly invite Mrs. O Brien to this meeting for input and suggestions. o could also create a survey for students for their feedback on how effective they felt it was, and which aspects needed tweaking and what we should add.

Benefit to the students and the school

Since then at Quashnet one class has already done their individual map skills using their drawing of Penikese Island on graph paper (they were permitted to put in their own features, as we haven’t had sufficient background information yet.) This experience would be great for science and social studies, as it is a primary source unique to this area, rather than just telling students about other ports of entry, and where the sick went. Standards met in science, and hands-on experiments would greatly enhance the depth of knowledge our future fifth graders would have when taking MCAS Science testing the next year.

We would do a lot of classroom work on our Science Curriculum particularly in the field of Earth’s Systems: 4ESS2-1 Weathering and Erosion, Impact on the environment. 4ESS2-2: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s Features.  We have created lessons for these and use the MA Model Curriculum for this field of study. We have rubrics for task performances and we could certainly create a series of experiments and carry out investigations on structures near the water’s edge to gauge how effective they would be near moving water. We would have a cartography station for map making from hill summit and match to an actual satellite image, efforts would be clear and measurable. Students would be on a small enough finite space; the island of Penikese to do this successfully with a simple checklist.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

We are currently in the planning stage, and are having our meeting this week or next week with the educational
Coordinator. We will be covering all the lessons over the course of the year between now and May so students have a greater knowledge of the material we hope to have them apply.  We will make arrangements for boats and other outreach as soon as we meet.  We project that this trip could happen in May before the boats have full schedules, travel is safe, and we could use them for our trip to Penikese. We would have days after the trip for follow up writing, examination of what we achieved, and how we feel it met the specific learning goals of our grade. We might even have some wonderful photo-journalistic essays and Flipgrid videos to share and put on our website.

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