Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Water World 2010

On May 2nd, Fort Worden experienced an influx of 56 fifth and sixth graders.  Accompanied by their parents and chaperones, most had traveled from Yakima, Puyallup or Spokane but a few hailed from Port Townsend. They were here to participate Water World; an annual camp that is a dynamic fusion of art and science.  As a collaboration between the Marine Science Center and Centrum, the staff included instructors from many artistic disciplines:  visual artist, Darwin Nordin, writer Nisi Shawl, and movement artist Christian Swenson. The marine biology contingent was comprised of Libby Palmer (co-founder of the Marine Science Center), Julia and Jess.
One of the quiet moments, drawing by the pond
Photo by: Al McCleese

Water World was an amazing, immersive experience for students and staff alike.  The days were jam-packed with classes on a wide spectrum of topics. The art classes included writing, drawing, painting, and movement. The science classes covered marine invertebrates, behavioral ecology of orcas, and the anatomy and life history of gray whales (students even put together an entire gray whale skeleton!). 
Vertebral Puzzlers
Photo by: Melinda Pongrey

Practicing scientific observation and drawing; Persephone put on quite the show! 
Photo by: Al McCleese

Time was also spent outdoors on an all-day beach walk that included a pond and the lagoon.  It was amazing to see how the science and art complemented each other throughout the week in every class.  The all-day walk had time for students to draw organisms they found, write about what they saw and create art installations on the beach out of shells, wood, sand and rocks.  Each student also got the opportunity to participate in a large beach seine. Evening activities included group games, crafts (creating their own sea creature), Native American storytelling, a campfire on the beach and a final student performance/presentation of their work.
Inspecting a pond sample.
Photo by: Darwin Nordin

Students created  large-scale, abstract beach drawings. 
Concept and photo by: Darwin Nordin

One of the main objectives of Water World is to enhance students’ understanding of the marine environment through the lenses of both science and art. Unfortunately, it seems that many people today believe a rigid dichotomy exists between these two fields, but this program exemplified how art and science can not only co-exist, but also can beautifully enrich each other. These 5th and 6th grade students were able to seamlessly integrate art and marine biology, creating awe-inspiring works of art that depicted new scientific information they had gleaned from their classes. As instructors it was a true pleasure to engage with students whose curiosity, creativity and enthusiasm were so evident.
Movement teacher, Christian Swenson exploring a tide pool with a student. 

Photo by: Darwin Nordin

An installation on the beach, inspired by the nature-art of Andy Goldsworthy.
Photo by: Darwin Nordin

Julia Ledbetter and Jess Swihart

For more information visit Centrum's website:

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Never-Ending Egg Hatching!

On November 28th, 2009, the first of our grunt sculpin eggs hatched. We got very excited and decided we would try to raise them. If we just left the baby fish in the tank with their parents, the anemones would have caught them. Every time we would find newly hatched fish, they were transfered to a dark brooding tank with a turkey baster and were fed small brine shrimp three times a day. After a month of caring for the newly hatched grunt sculpins, we realized we weren’t succeeding. They weren’t growing any bigger and they wouldn’t live for more than a few days. So, starting in January, we started releasing them off our floating dock. We thought the eggs would never stop hatching! There were always at least a few new fish every few days. But finally, after five and a half months, they have stopped.

Grunt sculpin watching over its eggs

Since November we have had 1,191 eggs hatch!!! And 1,074 of those were released off our dock in hopes of becoming cute adult grunt sculpins! Here's a graph of the trend of the egg hatching. Look how up and down it is! Some days there were no babies, other days, in the high 80's.

Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 8-15th is AmeriCorps Week 2010

What a great opportunitiy to share with you-
Why we serve at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center:

Serving and learning go hand in hand: 
Our volunteers, the critters, bones,  
and our surrounding environment are
constantly providing us with new knowledge. 

A voice for the voiceless: 
We serve as the voices for our animals. 
It is our duty to help people understand the importance
of them and their habitats.

The right to get dirty
A good days work can often be measured in rust stains on jeans,
sandy boots, and fish scented clothing. 

Hope for the future: 
Seeing them raise their hands eagerly to answer questions, watching them brainstorm ways to make their watershed cleaner, running up to show you something neat on the beach. We can't help to smile
knowing they are the future.
Working with volunteers:
Who can say no to a friendly hug, advice on life and uplifting words? Our volunteers make it a pleasure to work here, offering support and help at our beckoning call! They are so willing to help in any way they can whether its cleaning tanks, painting fish, looking at plankton or helping us teach!

A place full of unique opportunities:
Our resumes are too good to be real! 
Skills: snorkeling for animals, printing an orca flipper,
learning the plumbing for a marine exhibit.
Everyday is a new experience!

Port Townsend Marine Science Center AmeriCorps
Getting Things Done!

The Ladies,
Jess, Julia, Valerie, Heather

Get Things Done!  Join AmeriCorps.  Go to AmeriCorps.gov