Blaine students learn about marine science in Drayton Harbor

By Oliver Lazenby

The Blaine school district is taking advantage of its location by studying science and marine ecosystems in its own backyard.

This year, first, fifth, sixth and eighth-graders are getting immersed in Drayton Harbor and the surrounding watershed with Gardens of The Salish Sea Curriculum, a Whatcom County nonprofit that teaches environmental science programs to grade school students around the county.

Last week, sixth-grade classes visited Blaine Harbor to sample water quality and salinity, take an inventory of marine life on a dock walk and learn about the life cycles of marine organisms. The field trip kicked off a unit about water quality and ocean acidification, said Sue Schweinsberg, a Blaine Middle School science teacher. 

“We’re trying to give them a sense of the watershed they live in,” she said.

Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum started working with Blaine students in 2012 as part of a larger effort to clean up Drayton Harbor through education, outreach and other means.

Program director Julie Hirsch sees the curriculum as an important supplement to the national curriculum typically used in the classroom. The local approach gives students the opportunity to learn about everything from Drayton Harbor Oyster Company and other local marine businesses, to the ways that human and animal waste upstream effects life in Drayton Harbor.

The program has slowly expanded to serve more kids over the past seven years.

“What we’re hoping to do with the district is slot in watershed education opportunities all the way up,” Hirsch said.

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