Heating up: the Bates partnership with expeditionary learning at Lewiston Middle School

Located just across the street from the Bates campus, Lewiston Middle School has long been an important partner for the Harward Center and the College. Bates students taking Education courses are hosted by LMS teachers in their classrooms every semester; Bates clubs and teams develop one-time and ongoing opportunities for middle school students; and each year we host several Aspirations Days during which we invite middle schoolers to Bates for a day of college aspirations-focused activities. Recently, our partnership has taken an exciting leap, thanks to big changes in the Lewiston Middle School curriculum. Starting last spring, teachers are moving to a curricular approach known as Expeditionary Learning, which is a project-based, hands-on interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.

In concert with several Bates faculty members, the Harward Center has responded to these changes with renewed efforts to partner in exciting ways with Lewiston Middle School teachers. For 8th graders, the year at Lewiston Middle School commenced with “Outbreak,” an expedition that asked students to explore how things go viral–not only the spread of bacteria, viruses, and diseases, but also how social media and technology cause information to “go viral.” As a part of that expedition, almost 400 8th graders visited the Bates campus where, among other things, they learned about a recent mumps outbreak on several college campuses, including at Bates. For an upcoming expedition, “Rules to Live By,” Bates students from an Education course on adolescent literacy will help middle schoolers explore issues related to social justice and equity through various media, including fiction, autobiography, and slam poetry.

Additionally, STEM faculty at Bates are building strong partnerships with STEM teachers at the middle school, to the benefit of students at both institutions. In the fall semester, students from a course called “Science Communication,” taught by biology professor Andrew Mountcastle, developed highly engaging presentations for middle school students on complicated science topics such as cell structure and function; nuclear energy; and momentum. Also in the fall, students in a marine science course taught by Professor Katie Dobkowski created interactive games and activities to help middle schoolers understand a variety of topics related to marine ecology, including the function of whale blubber, the use of camouflage in helping animals avoid predators, and the important role parasites play in a marine ecosystem. Professor Dobkowski is already planning another event for middle school students in the upcoming Winter term, and other Bates STEM faculty are planning possible presentations for middle schoolers.

As this partnership continues to grow, we also recognize the hard work and dedication the middle school teachers put into their work with our community’s youth. To show our appreciation for LMS teachers, the Harward Center worked with the Bates Men’s Football Team to plan a Teacher Appreciation Day, in which we invited middle school teachers and their families to join us for a football game in October, where we publicly recognized the critical work they do.

On behalf of the College, the Harward Center is excited to continue partnering with our friends and colleagues across the street on programs and initiatives, old and new, that grow our community.