Friday, July 6, 2018

Floating classroom for kids on Crescent Lake by Sheila Bourque

Coming to Crescent Lake this summer is the Melinda Ann, a 30-foot pontoon boat designed to
be a floating classroom. This classroom is the centerpiece of the LakesAlive! program developed by the Maine Lakes Society.  

Susan Gajewski, President of the Crescent Lake Watershed Association (CLWA) announced that the free program will be held at Camp Agawam in Raymond on August 16 and 17 and is open to Raymond and Casco students and summer visitors to the lake age 8 years old and older.  According to Gajewski there will be several sailings each day that last about an hour and a half, just long enough to provide each participant the opportunity to use the various instruments and tools aboard the floating classroom.   

The Melinda Ann is equipped with proprietary and field-tested materials and activities that deliver a powerful on-the-water learning experience. Through hands-on activities that explore such topics as lake ecology, food webs and water cycles, the Melinda Ann’s young passengers use a Secchi disk to measure water clarity, a benthic dredge to take bottom samples, a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle to explore the lake and scientific instruments to measure temperature and oxygen levels throughout the water column as well as to explore the microscopic organisms that live in our lakes.  As a bonus while awaiting to board the Melinda Ann, the students will examine an EnviroScape Wetlands Model that tracks how rainwater falling on the lands surrounding lakes carry soil, chemicals and other pollutants into the lake.   The goal is that once engaged in the life of the lake, students will begin to develop a personal motivation to become good environmental stewards.

The program is sponsored by the Crescent Lake Watershed Association in close cooperation with Camp Agawam which held a LakesAlive! program in June during its Maine Idea session.  “When CLWA first discussed this program with us,” commented Karen Malm, Assistant Camp Director at Agawam, “we knew we just had to offer it for our Maine Idea session this spring and we were not disappointed.  The boys just loved it and I am sure it will be perfect for the Crescent Lake community this summer.”­­­

In early June the Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) hosted a LakesAlive! session for students of the Wilton Academy.  “I cannot begin to tell you how excited those students were as they stepped off the boat at the end of their session on the water, “ said Sandra Muller,  a FOWL member and close observer of the event, “and a large part of the success of each trip can be attributed to the knowledge and communication skill of Melinda Ann Captain Phil Mulville,” she continued as she explained how Captain Phil is able to connect with each student on board.

The LakesAlive! concept was originally developed over a decade ago and since 2010 has been a major part of the Maine Lakes Society’s multi-faceted effort to improve its capacity to engage both children and adults in understanding and protecting Maine’s lakes. “We have developed this program at a time when our society is seeing alarming declines in children engaged in outdoor activities and experiences that teach them how to care for their environment and how to simply “be” in the natural world,” comments Maggie Shannon, Executive Director of the Maine Lakes society, “and we are particularly pleased to be able to partner with Camp Agawam and the Crescent Lake Watershed Association to bring this wonderful program to the Crescent Lake community.”

According to CLWA’s Susan Gajewski, this is the organization’s first attempt to expand its community outreach to encourage lake health education and stewardship.  “We hope to interest more community members to help us develop creative activities and programs to promote and protect this valuable community resource that is the chain of lakes surrounding our watershed.”
For more information or to register your student for the August LakesAlive! program on Crescent Lake go to

Maine Idea campers from Camp Agawam watch as Captain Phil Mulville explains how and why a dredge is used to take samples of the bottom of Crescent Lake.  This is just one of the hands-on learning experiences aboard the Melinda Ann in mid-June.

First Mate and former Maine IFW scientist Matt Scott discusses the content of bottom samples with Maine Idea campers.

No comments:

Post a Comment