A Salinity Update

Our grant application from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute was awarded and students are busy constructing a “remote salinity sensor station” that can digitally monitor the salinity of the marsh waters in the area near the outlet.  The sensor station needs to be built by soldering the circuit board and its wires that will connect to the probe and programming the circuit board to collect data at specific time intervals.  Sophia Miller, Gwen Miller, Willow McConnochie, James Cody, Zeke Miller and Jack Elwell have been working with Mr. Meinersmann to make this unique station.  They are persevering to read through a published technical paper that is the closest thing to a “how to build” manual, since our station will be uniquely designed for our site and our data needs.  They are each engineers in the making!

 .   .

In the meantime, our class has been collecting water samples from the marsh to test manually for salinity differences.  We use a refractometer and first test a sample with distilled water and adjust the scale to zero if need be.  Then we test our marsh sample at room temperature.  We will be posting our data soon.  Some of the highest tides in May are occurring this week and weekend, so it’s important we collect as many samples during this time as we can.  Stay tuned!



An Important Discovery!

As we followed up on Ms. Palmer’s astonishing findings, we accidentally discovered an important step to using our refractometers.  We discovered when using a water sample that was quite cold, taken on site and immediately put onto the refractometer, the scale will read higher than if the sample is at room temperature – the same temperature as when the instrument was calibrated.  This probably indicates that the salinity measurements taken in the field during early March are incorrect, WHICH IS GOOD NEWS!  It is more likely that the salinity readings in the marsh nearer the Watts Avenue end, or possibly even all the readings are not accurate.  We are going to bring our samples to room temperature to test in more controlled conditions from now on!


Wondering about the Salinity of the Marsh with Flooding Tides

With the recent flooding tide of Friday, March 2nd observed by middle level students, (11.4 foot tide and ‘Nor Easter winds)  Ms. Palmer sampled the marsh on Sunday (10.9 foot tide), using a salinity refractometer.  Here is the discussion the class had that next day, captured by Lydia Myers, when Ms. Palmer came to our classroom to share her data.

The Marsh’s Salinity

Contributed by Lydia Myers 

We had a group discussion with Mrs. England, and Mrs. Palmer about the salinity in the marsh. On Friday March 2nd, Mrs. Palmer walked alongside the marsh and tested the salinity in five different places.

What she discovered was, that close to the culvert where the ocean water comes into the marsh, the salinity there was 25 ppt (part per thousand). I thought this was interesting because the ocean water is rushing into the marsh at a considerably steady pace, when the tide comes in, so I thought that there might have been a higher ppt, as the ocean’s is 33 ppt. She explained how she continued to walk along the marsh’s bank and test the salinity of the water every so often. Mrs. Palmer recorded four other times, the numbers that were seen in order were, (25) 15, 6, 9, and 10 ppt.

As she was telling us what the numbers were and where they were recorded I was surprised when it went from six to nine. At first when she said six I thought the other two spots must have had a really low ppt, but I was amazed that it was just the opposite.

This could be a possible problem for the alewive population, as they come in with the tide to breed in the freshwater marsh around the time of May and June, though it is a possibility that the salinity could decrease from now to then.

Before 2016, no one had seen any alewives in the marsh in over 30 years. Efforts were made from 2009 to 2013 to bring back the alewive population by restocking the marsh with 500 alewives in the spring of each of those four years. Finally the town’s efforts had paid off when, of all people, Mrs. England and some of her now former students, observed three small alewives in a very small amount of water collected in the culvert during a low tide! Though the number of fish had been few, it was a huge accomplishment. Soon after they had observed even more of the fish, at one point in time they even netted approximately ten fish and brought them into the marsh. To this day the alewives have been witnessed swimming back into their birth place (the marsh).

Mrs. England had mentioned the state may possibly be restocking the marsh again this, or next year. We have some concerns about the spawning of the restocked fish, because of the amount of salt in the marsh, as the alewives need a salinity if 0-5ppt  to successfully repopulate. One of our main concerns is if the amount of salt in the marsh will damage the fish eggs.

Now that we have this information about the salinity in the marsh, I wonder if this has anything to do with the alewife problem, and how/why that much salt water is so far back in the marsh.

A Spring Tide with ‘Nor Easter Winds – Friday’s High Tide

Contributed by Addie McPhail

March 2nd, 2018

On Friday, March 2nd, my class which was accompanied by Mrs. England, headed down to the culvert between our lunch and recess period. We had recently been informed by Mrs. England to bring boots due to our observation of the high tide that day.  

When we arrived at our destination, we found to our surprise that the tide was 11.4 feet tall, which was one of the highest tides that this month. The water was about an inch from reaching the very top of the culvert. All of my classmates, as well as me, were quite surprised but very interested in why the tide was so high. We learned that because of the full moon (which had occurred the previous night), and the fact that we had a ‘Nor’easter along the coast, that would lead us to have onshore winds. These winds drive the coastal waters to be higher than normal.

Although our class was not there to experience the tide’s arrival which occured at 10:56 am, we were very much surprised and excited to observe the culvert while the tide was in action. (standing on it… ) And even though many pictures were taken for those who weren’t there, I was very glad to be able to see and experience the high tide in person.


Shortly after our observations of the high tide near the culvert, Mrs. England invited Mrs. Palmer, another member of staff at our school, to talk to us about an interesting and quite surprising observation she made not long after the high tide. Her observation was measured by her small EC meter.

An EC meter or electrical conductivity meter, measures the salinity or how much salt is in something. All you have to do is carefully place a few drops of the liquid that you are testing underneath the lid. Next, you gently close the lid, and peer into the other end while directing it to some kind of light. There, while you are looking into it, should appear the numbers that represent the salinity of that liquid.

Mrs. Palmer used her trusty EC meter to measure the salinity of the marsh. She got a surprisingly high result in her salinity measure shortly after. These measurements included 25 ppt (parts per thousand) down by the culvert on the upstream side, and even a measure of 10 ppt way up within the marsh. My classmates and I were quite surprised considering that we knew the marsh typically consisted of fresh water.

After Mrs. Palmer finished sharing her latest observation, Mrs. England brought up the alewives, questioning how they would do within the marsh, now that there was a higher ppt. That got us all to thinking about what would be in store for us in the spring. We were all wondering the same question: Will we be able to restock the marsh with alewives this coming spring? 

Right now, we are unsure if we will restock alewives in the marsh this spring or not, but we do hope that the high ppt was just affected by the high tide which recently occurred. We know that if the salt does remain, it will be a risk to deal with if we decide to put more alewives in the marsh. We all hope for the best and wish luck to the marsh until spring. It may be a bumpy ride ahead for alewives, but luckily the Seventh Grade is looking forward to this spring, and hopes that all will be well.




Our Kiosk Display – Teaching Others in Our Community

With deep appreciation to Blueberry Cove 4-H Camp and members of the Conservation Commission for a beautifully built kiosk, permitted and installed in the parking access to the Marsh, students were able to prominently display their work for the community.

One panel focuses on “History Around the Marsh” featuring a GIS map students created showing the boundary of the watershed and the location of the home fuel oil leak that led to the Water District, whose boundary is also located in the map along with the two town wellheads that provide public water.  The historic route off the peninsula is featured and how it came to be “replaced” by Route 131, and many old buildings that used to be along Main Street near the outlet of the Marsh that have been demolished or relocated through the years.  We were able to find the “Old Cellar Hole” of a family mentioned in the 1860’s census and on an 1857 map that shows the Marsh as a stream throughout. We were able to create a superimposed image of today’s Marsh over the old map to locate today’s more extensive body of water.

Another panel focuses on our “Explorations of Habitat Around the Marsh” and all the places we ventured and what we did and what we saw.  Students wrote caption descriptions to photos we took while exploring and share art illustrations and poetry inspired by the watershed.  Information on featured species; eagles, osprey, elvers and alewives is also displayed!  Come see and learn!

Lasting Impressions

“The most important part of this unit for me was being involved with nature and to respect nature and your surroundings, especially when it is your community.  What bothers me the most is how much kids are stuck to their screens and not to the outdoors, and this unit was a great chance to explore our community and nature.”  Willow McConchie

“This Marsh Project was very fun!  I learned so many things including history around the Marsh and the habitat of animals who live there.  The most important thing that I learned was about alewives and elvers, and their lifecycle.  Before we did this Marsh Project, I had never been heard the word “alewife” or “elver”.  I enjoyed going on our field trip to the Marsh.  It was really fun to explore the Marsh and the habitats of animals that life there.  I really enjoyed this unit!”  Addie McPhail

“I learned a lot about creating maps.  I enjoyed collaborating with my class to create something.”  Lute Campbell

“I liked learning how many old buildings are gone.  What I liked best about this project was being in the woods during school.” Adrien Williams

“My favorite part was walking around the Old Road.  The most interesting thing about the Marsh I learned about was what contour lines are and how they work and what a watershed is.”  Henry Weinand   

“I liked all of the adventures and field trips we went on.  It was fun when we went to the culvert and took a big class picture.  I learned that the broken egg that we found was a goose egg.”  Lilly Dyer

“My favorite part about the Marsh Project is when we went outside to the Marsh.  The most important things I learned were the watershed boundary and where it was.” Shaun Hopkins

“I liked that we got to go lots of places during the project.  I also learned more about iGIS and point and non-point source pollution.  Ella Wirkala

“My favorite part of this project was going out to the Marsh.  I learned what contour lines are and what watersheds are.”  Zele Miller

“ I liked this project because it involved mostly the outdoors and the history of the Marsh, which I’m very interested in.  I loved our Forest in a Jar(s), our big walk, and our iGIS work.”  Grace Yanz

“The Marsh Project was fun!  I like this project because we got to go outside and we got to learn things about the habitat and the history of the Marsh.  My favorite part was walking on the beaver dam.”  Mya Simmons

“My favorite part about this project was finding plants and animals at the Marsh.”  Madison Barbour

I learned what a watershed really is and the history around the Marsh.  My favorite part was the walks and going outside.”  Taylor Warrington

“The Marsh is an amazing place.  I loved learning about the plants and animals that thrived and struggled there as we walked through the forest.”  Maggie Gill

“I liked this project a lot.  It was a lot of fun outdoor work.  Walking the “Old Road” was my favorite part.  I learned the Marsh used to be two feet deeper.  The alewives could come into the Marsh because of the culvert.  The alewives are returning this year.”  Lydia  Myers

“I liked the project because I think it was fun to learn about the Marsh and the history and habitat around it.  I learned that there was an old road on Fogerty Corner.  I also learned that the Marsh ’s water level was two feet higher back then.  I never expected to learn stuff like that.”  Gwen Miller

“My favorite part of this was the alewife part and when my cousin Lyle came and he brought alewives.”  Breannah Morris

“The most important thing I learned was about all the habitat and people around the Marsh.  My favorite thing that we did was learn about the Hermit.”  Jack Ewell

“My favorite part of this project was going outside and exploring nature.  The most important thing I learned is what a watershed is and how big the Marsh is.”  James Cody

Our “Celebration of Learning” Presentation

Students presented a summary overview of our activities to an audience including parents, teachers, the town’s Conservation Commission members and a Natural Resource Council of Maine staff member.  We narrated these slides of a KeyNote presentation, presented here as a movie, to share what we learned about throughout our studies.

The Hermit by Jack Elwell

Here is a narrative Jack Elwell wrote about “the Hermit”, as told to us by James Skoglund.

The Hermit

Mr. Skoglund and Mrs. Gee came into our class to talk to us about the hermit that used to live on the edge of the Marsh.  His name was Arthur Pierson, also known as Art.  He lived in this dugout where all he used for light and heat was kerosene, even throughout the winter.  He would go to local car garages and help himself to the oil.  Even though people knew he took kerosene, the community knew that he was not able to buy his own resources, so they just let him have it.

When he was younger, the Odd Fellows Hall was burned to the ground.  Whether or not Art was responsible for the fire, he took the blame and was sent to prison.  When he got back he just kept living his life, doing the same things that he did before prison.  Kids used to sneak out to his dugout and some of the kids would be destructive and throw his apples that he had gathered.  Some people would give him food and other resources to in order to get by. 

When he got older, around seventy, our town decided that if he lived where he was for much longer, he might die of something like hunger or being too cold to survive, so men were sent to capture him.  They did and brought him to an asylum to live.  I don’t think he sounded completely incompetent, but he wasn’t like most people either.  When he was in the asylum, he helped with some of the more ill people.  From what we know, he died there at the asylum.  That’s one of the many stories about our town, another piece of history around the Marsh.

My Home by Grace Yanz

Grace Yanz made some discoveries about her own home on Main Street!

My Home  

by Grace Yanz

I moved into this house on 75 Main Street in February of 2017 from Rackliff Island, and I’ll tell you, I didn’t have an open mind. My mom said she bought the house because of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is pretty interesting.

When I explored the house I found a trapdoor in the ceiling of my room and a door leading down to the basement. The basement is dark and full of spiders and gravel with a window but no door leading to the crawl space.


In the living room I found a picture of my house in the 1800’s (it was built in 1872) that I found fascinating. The saplings around the house in the picture are now tall and full-grown. The people are dressed for a photo in amazing clothes. It was such a big family! It was originally owned by the Hart family.

The house is really nice to live in. I can walk to school in two minutes, the library in one minute, the Marsh in one minute, and the General Store in five minutes. Ripley Creek and the harbor are also close by, and I can find lots of fun treasures in the mud along the shore of the creek. Lots of the people living nearby go to the school, and the fire station is across the street in case of emergency.

The Marsh is one of my favorite places to go. I walk there and kayak there and it’s really interesting. The first time I went out on the water it was right after school when me and my brother were home alone. We found a pool by the beaver dam that was absolutely teeming with fish. I was walking my dog another time and I found a flightless merganser.  Another time we were going in the evening and we found a turkey in a tree, an owl, a turtle, and sundew, a carnivorous plant (wish I had a picture of that)!

I’d like to thank John Falla for the work he has put into our class project, and especially the information he researched about my house.

 Grace brought in this framed memo when she was researching the old photo.  We asked John Falla to interpret what appears to state:  “Harte Built by Charles A. Gliden in Oct. 1st 1871, moved in Dec.17, 1871”


The house was owned by the Gregson family when I was growing up in the village (1950s-1960s).  They were from Worcester, MA, and Mrs. Gregson was part of the Hart family in St George.

Charles Glidden lived in the house next to the Marsh where Jane Derbyshire now lives.  Glidden was a joiner – or house carpenter – and built many homes in Tenants Harbor.

With this info, I believe the note is saying the house was built for Hart by Charles Glidden, and my guess is that the house was built for Ida Gregson’s parents – John Amos Hart and his wife, Mary Jane Dukeshire.  One of Frederickson’s deeds refers to an abutting property owner as Mary J Hart.”   John Falla, May 2017