CCLC High School Students Dive into Marine Sciences

At the Cobscook Community High School Program, “community” includes our microscopic neighbors living underwater in Cobscook Bay. Students in the experiential program housed at the Cobscook Community Learning Center in Trescott are participating in hands-on learning experiences to develop a clearer understanding of the essential role our oceans play in ecology and economy of this area and how they are changing as a result of global warming. One of these experiences was a weeklong trip at the end of October that took them to three of the state’s leading marine research institutions.

“As a program located on the Maine coast, and with many participants coming from families who rely on our marine resources for their livelihood, understanding our relationship with the oceans is critical for our students,” says teacher Michael Giudilli. 

The trip began with a visit to University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) in Walpole, ME. During their visit to the center, the students were taken on a research cruise on Damariscotta Bay to collect microscopic plankton and learn about aquaculture activities in the area. Once back on solid ground, the students took their freshly collected plankton samples to one of DMC’s labs to view their catch under microscopes, allowing students to see all the life that exists in just one drop of sea water.

The student’s next stop was the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay. The Bigelow Lab was established in 1974 as a private, non-profit, research center. While at the lab, students met with research scientists Nicole Poulton and Steven Baer. Each of these scientists shared their work and expertise and gave students a look into the workings of a world-class marine research institution. 

The trip ended with a two-day visit to the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research (DEI) on Great Wass Island. DEI is the easternmost marine research and education center in the United States and is a state-of-the art venue for marine research, attracting leading scientists from around the world. While at DEI, students spent time with Assistant Director, George Protopopescu, learning what it takes to keep a shellfish hatchery up and running. They wrapped up their visit with Colleen Haskell who prepared the students to set up their own clam experiments in the classroom at the Cobscook Community Learning Center. 

“This has truly been an eye-opening experience,” says student Ayoun Strongin. “It makes me think that maybe the land is something that was created just so we could visit the sea.”

The students have returned from this trip with a newfound understanding of the importance of our oceans and how they are changing. As the school year continues, students will take the wealth of information they have gained from this trip and apply it to their own ocean studies in Cobscook Bay, which will include soft shell clam research and rockweed monitoring. 

The Program accepts transfer students throughout the year. Interested students, families, and community members are encouraged to call 733-2233 or visit to apply, receive program info., or schedule a visit.