Birds in my Binoculars: Science at Maine Coast Semester

Yesterday morning I arrived at the circular patch of grass that has been my science classroom for the last few months to find a pile of binoculars and birding books. This is by no means an unusual occurrence. Last week it was magnifying glasses, and before that, it was a pile of eastern white pine branches. I was immediately excited to hear what we were going to be doing today. My teacher and cabin parent, Megan, did not disappoint. She excitedly announced that we would be watching birds.

Our class proceeded to go on a pleasant walk to Hoyts point. On the way, Megan pointed out any birds we came across, and I found that I was able to identify most of the trees we passed. It was a brisk day, and the leaves were various shades of red, orange and gold. (Coming from California I found this very impressive.)

When we reached the point, we took out our binoculars and had a laugh trying to identify the different birds we could see. I was not very good at it, but had fun flipping through the book and staring at the colorful pictures of birds. I was shocked by how many I recognized. A few I had just seen flying in the sky or gracefully walking in the marsh. It was at that moment that I realized just how lucky I am to be here. My friend from home had just written an email to me about a particularly boring physics test that she had taken over zoom, and here I was in science class sitting by the water of Maine staring at a double-crested cormorant.

This past month, I found that I really love science. While I found myself falling asleep in chemistry last year, here I look forward to learning more about the world around me. Field labs are often a highlight in my week. Whether we are collecting plankton at the waterfront to look at under microscopes, hiking up a mountain for a better vantage of the way a river winds, or searching for crabs at a rocky point, it’s always fun and engaging. Laughing with friends while we canoed down the river to measure the water’s salinity is something I will never forget.

Carmen Wirth, The Drew School, San Francisco, CA

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