For three days and two nights, Harrells Christian Academy’s seventh grade class immersed themselves in the hands-on marine biology classroom called The Sound To Sea Program at the Trinity Center in Salter Path.
Guided by expert teachers, students took in a tremendous amount of knowledge about North Carolina’s barrier island ecology, human interaction with local plants and animals, and how threats to this habitat are harmful to human health.
Whether wading in the sound with collection nets, dissecting squid and using its ink, learning survival skills like making rope, or performing the classic team-building “blind walk” exercise, every element of these seventh graders’ week-long experience was used for learning. Instruction about the impact of food waste was applied in the dining room, where after every meal students collected and measured their “ort” (food waste), graphing the results and cheering as the amount got lower and lower. At night, the group slept in cabins set between the ocean and beautiful Bogue Sound.
HCA Head of Middle School Beth Griffin said the trip “pushed students out of their comfort zone. They had to think critically and get involved.”
The program’s teachers especially impressed her. “The staff at The Trinity Center were highly educated and well-travelled,” she said.
The seventh grade is excited to bring their new knowledge back to their school community at Harrells. With Griffin and science teacher Kim Bowles, they hope to continue the discussions started on the trip and connect with the newly formed Upper School Environmental Science Club.
This excitement marks success for The Sound to Sea Program, which seeks to follow naturalist Baba Dioum’s maxim: “We will only conserve what we love. We will only love what we understand. We will only understand what we are taught.”