Gulf of Maine: Dare to Care

Categories: Careers, Climate Change, Marine Life, Micro Organisms, Oceanography, Research, Water Quality
Organization Name: 
Medomak Valley High School
Waldoboro, Maine
Krisanne Baker
Classroom/Project team/names: 
Foundations of Art, Studio Art, Ceramics I
Email address: 
bakerk93 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Project Date: 
2015 -present
Powerpoint / PDF / Zip / Document: 

THE DELICATE BALANCE of Endangered Ocean Creatures

THE JOURNEY: As an ocean-obsessed art teacher, I developed a curriculum in art and science, specifically marine ecology and stewardship, for my high school students called Gulf of Maine: Dare to Care. It can span anywhere from one quarter to a whole years' worth of lesson plans that focus upon imagery, knowledge and caring for our great Blue. My students have responded with phenomenal energy, creativity, and open hearts over the past 8 years this curriculum has been in place at Medomak Valley High School where I have taught for many years. I have shared presentations several times at the request of the Maine Art Education Association, and through World Ocean Observatory based here in Maine.

ABOUT THE ART: After watching introductory videos such as Racing Extinction, students then research an endangered ocean creature that they particularly connect with. I give them a list of 50+ creatures that live or pass through our backyard Gulf of Maine. So if you make your own list indicative to the area of ocean that you are closest to, you can have students create work that is more site specific and possibly meaningful to their personal environments. Students research their chosen creature; learn how to do an accurate silhouette, and/or scientific illustration, then we move on to recycled fused glass silhouettes which can create a beautifully eye-catching installation at your school or library; or create a giant ocean related mural, indoors or out; we have also turned our echoey tiled cafeteria into an aquarium by installing 'ship model' style sculptures of all ocean creatures, from plankton at the base of the food web to the largest creatures on the planet, micro to macro!

INPSIRATION: Some students connect with ocean creatures far away, in other oceans; and that is perfectly okay, as long as there is that connection and desire to raise awareness on behalf of ocean health and the creature that suffers various human-created stressors. Stressors can vary from climate change induced ocean acidification, to warming oceans that change currents and temps and shifting food sources, to plastic or chemical pollution, sound pollution, ship strikes, overfishing and unsustainable fishing methods, undersea mining or gas and oil rig expansion. The list of stressors goes on and on. Many species are protected through CITES, and yet, there is little actual protection to cover the 70% of the planet.

OPEN MINDS OPEN HEARTS: The goal and objectives of this Dare to Care (D2C) curriculum is to open the eyes of our young people to the state of the ocean and its inhabitants; to inspire stewardship and action within them; to lead the way showing them how to get involved, and show how others are involved in the battle against human greed and apathy. It shows them how they are inherently connected to the ocean; their (our) health being connected to ocean health; the health of the planet connected to a healthy ocean. Currently (pun intended), the ocean is not healthy, and neither is our planet. But we can change that. I have hope. I've seen the light in my students' eyes when their minds and hearts are open. They've told me of career choices to work with the environment; marine biologists, environmental lawyers, and more!

HOW TO SHARE: If you want more information about sharing or how to teach this curriculum, I'm happy to help. In my retirement from public school teaching, I hope to travel to other schools to present this curriculum as a visiting artist. If you want to get in touch about that, or just have questions, you can reach me through my personal ocean artivist website where I donate 50% of my website sales of art to Coral Gardeners in a program called We The Reef.  Check it out at and leave me a message.

Earth Day is Everyday!