Messages in a bottle
'A good Friday adventure' was one assessment of the expedition undertaken by Helen Greenberg's Primary Five students at St. David's Primary on Friday, December 10.
The 17 excited youngsters together with four adults joined Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science education officers JP Skinner and Sara Scovronick on the launch
Polaris to travel beyond St. David's Head to launch messages in bottles into the ocean currents.
Inspired by the tale of a Florida boy whose message arrived on a Scottish shore 13 months after it was placed into the ocean, Mrs. Greenberg thought her students could learn much from doing something similar.
There was the language component the Friendly Letter notes for the inside of the bottle, in which each child wrote something about him or herself and the school.
Then there were the Science component (water movements, ocean currents, etc.), the Social Studies component (where in the world could the Gulf Stream take our bottles?), and the Technology component (examining images of the Gulf Stream on the internet, and using the keyboard to type the letters during computer time).
But the most striking lesson for the youngsters might have been the experience of being on the ocean during the winter and viewing their Island home from a different perspective, which was quite disorienting for some.
Following the launch of the message bottles, Sargasso Seaweed was collected and inspected for tiny creatures like shrimp, and
Polaris cruised through St. George's Harbour trawling for plankton. The day's adventure ended in the laboratory at BIOS for a closer look at the creatures under the microscope.
The highlights of the trip varied from student to student. Though the launch of the bottles figured highly, there was also the experience of travelling on rough water. Kyesja Jones “enjoyed when it was bumpy because it felt like a roller coaster”.
Zillah Welch admitted, “I enjoyed myself, but I also felt sick a little bit. It was a nice experience. It's amazing how the waves are and stuff”.
Going beyond the familiar and one's comfort zone was also an experience for the children. “I liked the trip,” Toni Ingemann declared, “because it showed you things that are outside and not just in your area. And you kinda feel how the early settlers felt because they had to face the wind, water and storms.”
The trip was also a poignant one, as it would be the last the students would take with Mrs. Greenberg, who is leaving the Island shortly. “Being with my teacher was the best,” Jmonet Hill said. “Because she's leaving. It was better to experience the trip with her than without her.”
As the trip had been already been postponed once for bad weather, Mrs. Greenberg was relieved that the expedition could take place with the generosity of the BIOS team. In fact, in certain ways the rough weather was an advantage, she felt. “It gave them a real appreciation of how rough water can be, and they had more experiences during a rough day than they would have had if it were calm. They will have a greater appreciation for what people are going through when they read about people caught in rough seas. It was also an adventure to see the land from the ocean. It was an unexpected gift,” she concluded. “Their surprise, everything they learned in addition to what I had planned.”
And now the children must wait and hope that their bobbing bottles will reach a farther shore, be collected and a letter sent in reply. For, as Malachi Eats noted, “It's very good to meet new friends.”