Getting A Professional’s Critique

After we had finished our history map, we invited feedback from Hope.  We planned a time we could connect through FaceTime, and she offered some general tips about assessing a map product, and then offered some very specific feedback for us to consider.

For starters, she explained what she calls “the ten second rule”.  Within ten seconds, a viewer of your map should have a clear idea of the purpose of the map and understands the information that is presented in the map.  This is helped by a clear title and map features that are easily seen and identified within the legend.  She thought we had done well and passed the ten second rule.

A different thing she mentioned is that our eyes do is follow a certain pattern as we take in visual information.  As readers, we read from left to right and start at the top.  Therefore, our eyes first look at information presented at the top right, then the information across the top, and then down the right side.  That means, our most important information should be at the top left on our map.

Something we had never thought about was the professional standards for how to order or symbols in the legend.  Hope told us that it is customary to place points first, then lines, then polygons when making the legend.  Our symbols were all mixed together in our legend.  She also mentioned that many people forget to put a “locator” in their maps.  We already had one in our map so we were happy about that and the other parts of a map we included, that any map should have.  Our symbols needed consideration however, along with its overall size in comparison to the map image size.

While we were getting feedback about our map, we shared with Hope the kinds of information we included around the map in the overall display about the history that we had learned during the project.  She thought our information was very interesting and told us our work surpassed that produced by some college students she teaches!

Based on her comments and tips, we decided to make sure people knew it applied to not only the map, but all of our display.  We made it bigger and moved it’s position.  We also made some changes in the order of our symbols and the size of our legend, and moved the location of our author’s names.  We wanted to do the very best we could to follow GIS cartography standards.

We are proud of the work we’ve done and have learned many new skills.  It was really helpful to have a professional critique our map so we could learn even more and create a better map as we considered her feedback and made decisions of what to revise.  Thank you Hope!

The Habitat Game

To help us learn the components of habitat, students played a game.  Here is how we played the game.

“The game is played by four people on one side of the basketball court.  They are the deer.  All of the other people on the other side are:  food, water, shelter and space.  These people have special cards representing the deer’s needs.  The four deer have to race across and get all of their things, one trip at a time, and get back to other side with all of their things.  If they don’t, the deer “dies” and becomes one of the deer’s needs.”  Lilly

“Some people are deer.  Other people are habitat.  Deer people have to get four tags of the habitat.  They need all of the colors to survive.  There are only a certain amount of resources.  Green = food, Yellow = space, Blue = water, Red = shelter.”  Adrien

“To play this game, you have four “deer” that try to collect an animal’s four needs:  food, water, space and shelter.  Anyone who isn’t a deer is a habitat part.  The deer try to collect the four needs before they run out.  Anyone who doesn’t collect them becomes part of the habitat.  At the start of every new round, more deer are chosen by the deer who have survived, making it harder to survive.”  Maggie

Here is what happened during our rounds!

“I really liked this game because of how much it relates to actual animals, and their habitat.  If they die, there is one less in the population.  If they add more deer, you reproduced with population growth.”  Lilly

“When deer lived, more habitat people became deer.  When we had lots of deer they didn’t have enough resources.  Four deer always seemed to survive.”  Adrien

“When we played, the population of the deer kept growing.  Soon, there was more deer than there was habitat.  Since every one was racing to get their needs, soon the habitat ran out of food, water, shelter and space.  All of the deer died and there was a population crash.”  Maggie


Learning from Lyle Morris, Elver Fisherman

“On Wednesday, May 3rd, my class talked with and listened to Lyle Morris who spoke about elvers and alewives.  The first thing he spoke about was elvers.  Lyle said elvers don’t eat anything while small but as they get older they start to eat small things in the Marsh.  Elvers are mostly eaten by fish and birds by the Marsh.  One pound of levers cost $1300 but it’s hard to get a license.  Elvers mostly die after going to spawn.”             Contributed by Ella

“Elvers (American Eels) are mainly caught and sold as babies.  They do this so the people that buy them can feed and raise them the way they want them.  Elvers live nine to eleven years and grow up to be two to three and a half feet long.  When elvers are born, they have no mouth or gills.  They breathe through their skin.  When they are young they are called glass eels.  This is because they are see through.”        Contributed by Sophia

“Your elvering limit depends on your historic landings.  Maine has one of the best elver runs on the Eastern seaboard.  Adult elvers lay their eggs in the ocean near Cuba.  When they hatch they are called glass eels.  When they are just born they have no mouths or gills, so they breathe through their skin.  On their journey in the Gulf Stream they go through metamorphosis so they then grow a mouth and a gill.”        Contributed by Willow

“I learned that elvers make us lots of money.  One pound of elvers is about a large hand full of the small, glass-like eels.  One pound of elvers is worth about $1300.   In the Sargasso Sea, the elvers are born.  The eggs float up in the currents and rivers to fresh water.  The elvers are hatched in the ocean from their eggs.  When they are nine years old, they swim back down to the Sargasso Sea where they mate and reproduce.  Then, the whole cycle restarts.”       Contributed by Jack

“Elvers are baby eels.  At first, they are small and are known as glass eels because they are clear.  They have small black eyes.  But they do not stay in this life stage for long, and so soon they will turn a brownish color but stay small until adulthood.  Elvers are tough, but delicate.  Elver eggs start their lives in the Sargasso Sea, and the current carries them to the Marsh.  The baby elvers live in the marsh until they are old enough to breed.  Then, they swim out of the Marsh to the Sargasso Sea and they lay their eggs.  Elvers help the Marsh.  They are food for fish and so they help sustain the Marsh’s ecosystem.”    Contributed by Addie

“I learned that the average lifespan of an elver is nine to eleven.  The adult elvers are about two or three feet and the kids are two inches.  They lay their eggs in the Bermuda Triangle and the babies find their way back.  Elvers are good money.  Elver season starts March 27 and stops June 7th.”    Contributed by James

“It takes three days to send elvers to Asia.  It takes 2,000 elvers to make one pound.  Females get to five feet if they are in good shape and have good food.  Three feet big is how the average male is.  Maine and South Carolina are the only states fishing for elvers.  They only run at night and are harvested when the sea is going out.  Their life span is nine to eleven years.  You get $1300 a pound.  Elver season starts March 22-June 7.  You have to be fifteen in order to catch elvers.  They lay their eggs in the Bermuda Triangle.”         Contributed by Taylor.

“Yesterday I learned about elvers, that they only run on the coming tide and at night.  For every elver you catch you get 50 cents.  If you catch elvers you have your own quota.  Elvers lay their eggs in the Sargasso Sea then when the eggs hatch they float up the current then come to the Marsh and live there until they’re ready to go back to the Sargasso and lay their eggs.  Elvers usually live nine to eleven years, because when elvers lay their eggs they usually die, but some survive and lay eggs twice.  The fishing season for elvers is from March 22-June 7.”    Contributed by Mya

“I remember elvers only live around nine to eleven years.  Elvers help the Marsh because they are food for fish.  Elvers when they are born float in the Gulf Stream until they smell freshwater and go to it and start growing.  Elvers in a pound cost about $1000-$1300 dollars.  When elvers are born they don’t have a mouth or gills.  The elvers come from salt water and go to fresh water because they need it to grow.  Elvers are known as glass eels.”   Contributed by Shaun

“Elvers are baby eels.  They are fished commercially in Maine and South Carolina.  The lifespan for an eel is nine to eleven years.  Adult eels lay their eggs around the Bermuda Triangle.  Adults die not long after this.  Elvers ride the Gulf Stream up north, then search for fresh water.  This is when the elvers swim into the nets.  Elver season is from March 22nd – June 7th.  One pound of elvers equals $1300.  An adult eels is about three to five feet, and a baby eel is one to two inches.”       Contributed by Lute

“I learned that elvers’ life span is nine to eleven years.  They also grow to be two feet or more.  Lyle said the price of elvers per pound is $1300.  Alewives are used as lobster bait.  Lyle also said one of the elvers is worth fifty cents.  When elvers are born they have no mouth or gills.  It takes time to develop them.  You have to have a license to fish them.  You have to be a certain age to fish elvers but when alewives were caught you could be any age.”    Contributed by Zeke

Here’s what students noted about alewives:

“What I learned about alewives is that when they go or live in the ocean people don’t know where they live.  I also learned that if they were born in the Marsh, they come back when they are older.  Alewives are still being fished in Warren on the St. George River.  It’s the best run for the fishermen who fish them.  Alewives are good bait for fishermen because they are fresh and they smell good to the lobsters.”     Contributed by Leah

“Lyle Morris says the best run for alewives is in Warren Maine, in the St. George River.  Alewives are a type of fish that live in salt water and breed in fresh water.  The adult alewives will only lay their eggs where they were born.  But the alewives that wanted to come to the Marsh to breed couldn’t make it into the culvert that they put in during the 1970’s.  The fish couldn’t breed, but people were also overfishing them on the ocean side.  They were fishing for the last adults coming to breed in the Marsh.  In the 1980’s all the alewives in the Marsh were gone.  They replaced the culvert, and put new laws on fishing the alewives, and in 2016 the first alewife was found in the Marsh in over thirty years.”      Contributed by Lydia











Surveying the Outlet Stream

Students were privileged to help survey elevations of the outlet stream to the Marsh.  The Nature Conservancy made a site visit to the stream on May 3rd; asked by the town’s Conservation Commission to survey the site and collect data to be used in the process of creating a concept design to improve fish passage.  Their crew of four biologists enlisted the help of both 6th and 7th grade volunteers to help hold the two prism poles as they took distance and angle measurements of referenced points that would help re-create the terrain of the outlet.  Students found it took concentration to keep the pole steady and level.

James taking a turn holding the ranging pole.

Willow, holding steady!

Sophia volunteered!

The surveying team explained to 8th grade student Zack U. about an additional “Z” coordinate, beside the familiar “X” and “Y”, describing it as “angle”.  The impromptu math lesson also brought in the concept of a graph’s “origin”; all the measurements were referenced from the fire hydrant at the back of the parking area.

Ahlivia and Cassi took the lead for 7th grade and helped with many of the data points, both in the water and on land.

Nick took a turn!

There was quite a lot of enthusiasm to see these professionals working in the field, taking up the cause of the returning alewives!

A special THANK YOU! to Ben Matthews and his team!

Adrien’s Track

Contributed by Adrien Williams

I asked Mrs. England if we could go for a walk in the woods and go up in the upper Marsh.  I wanted to get outside and we both decided to see if we could walk across the beaver dam and follow the edge of the water and see where the road was flooded.  The “road” isn’t usually flooded and our class is planning to walk through the road along the upper Marsh from Watts Avenue to Ponderosa.  Mrs. England invited Eli Miller to come along because he made wood duck nesting boxes that are up there and he knows lots about the ground up there.  We started out after school was over, Tuesday, April 11th.

We started in from Watts Ave and I recorded a track on the GPS unit I was carrying so we could see exactly where we went and where the flooding was.  Before we even got to the woods, we saw deer tracks.  The water was going around the end of the beaver dam.  There’s a lot of water coming through. I think if the dam ever went out it would flood the main road down by the culvert.

There’s a lot of water coming through. I think if the dam ever went out it would flood the main road down by the culvert.



When we followed the trail we didn’t go far before it was under water.  I saw about ten minnows in the flooded wheel ruts.  I tried catching them with the net and got one.  We are wondering what kind of species it is.  We were seeing geese and ducks flying around back here, more than in the Marsh itself.  In the distance we could see a wood duck box.

We went around the wet spot through a field and when we stepped back in the woods we found a giant ant hill.  Then we went through a thicket, then it opened up again and there was another beaver dam.  We checked out a flooded area behind this beaver dam and some ducks flew off the water.  I was first to walk across the beaver dam where if you fell over you might go in about four feet of water.  Then Mrs. England came across.

We crossed the trail and into the woods to see the duck box.  I noticed there were two bones under a log Mrs. England had walked over.  I think they may go to a duck, because they are similar to the gull skeleton in the science room, but not the same.  There were all kinds of geese along the edges and we stood quietly so they didn’t fly away.  Along this edge, Eli told us the channel could be ten feet deep.  There was a LOT more marsh up there.  So far, it was like seeing two whole regular Marshes, or more than ten football fields.  Then we had to head back to school because we had run out of time.  We both want to go back and canoe the whole upper part.

I liked that I got to walk in the woods and how big the upper Marsh was.  I was surprised there were so many ducks and geese up there.  I can’t wait to go back.



Groundwater Contamination in Tenants Harbor Village (1997)

Town Manager Tim Polky came to class to tell us about a home oil fuel leak that led to the Tenants Harbor Water District.


In 1997, a home heating oil company employee doing some maintenance on a home owner’s furnace at 6 Watts Avenue accidentally stepped on the copper tubing of the oil tank in the basement.  Oil leaked out into the cellar.  A sump pump emptied the oil and water that had collected and pumped it right next to the homeowner’s well, contaminating the well water.

The state helped assess how many people’s wells may have been affected.  Testing of wells and groundwater began.  They found petroleum in people’s wells and had to keep testing wells to find some that were not contaminated, to know how big an area was affected.  They found oil products in some wells that didn’t come from the Watts Avenue leak.  Unfortunately, it was common practice for garages and even homeowners to dispose of oil by pouring it down into the ground. Most people had a dump in their yards.  There was a garage that used to be where Harbor Builders have their offices now.  Another garage was where the parking lot of the Marsh is now.  Back then, waste oil could also be used on driveways to control dust.  With all the testing, the officials knew there were multiple sources of oil pollution in people’s wells.  People needed a clean water supply.

Land was bought on the Wallston Road with state and federal money.  The funding also helped pay for the well equipment and to help operate the wells for the first ten years.  Now there are two town wells near the Transfer Station that are around 600 feet deep and have enough flow to serve 600 people.  Today, those two town wells are connected to about 350 people’s houses and our school, to provide clean water.  Until the water district wells were up and running, people

had filters on their home wells to clean the water before it was used.  Any residents on town water have to pay a monthly bill for the water they use.

The boundary of the water district was formed using the topography of the land (the natural ridges).  The water district stretches from the north end of Watts Avenue, east to Spruce Lane on Barter’s Point Rd, south to the Sea Store and west as far as the Transfer Station. Groundwater from around the Transfer Station gets tested from time to time to make sure that the old dump is not a source of pollution today.

A big thanks to Mr. Polky for taking the time to visit our class and talk to us about this town history.  We never knew about this oil spill until he taught us about it.  We should be careful with oils, gasoline and other products, like paints and chemicals that could get into our water so nothing like this happens in the future and we continue to have clean water to drink.






The Movement of Water in a Watershed

Authored by Lute, Henry, Gwen, Addie, Lydia, Ella, Leah, Taylor, James, Mya

In class we have been learning about watersheds and their features and processes.   We were hoping to learn what a watershed was and what nature does almost every single day!  We learned a watershed is a place in the land where all the water flows to one big river, lake or pond.  We have also been learning about point source pollution and non-point source of pollution and how pollution can spread to other features of our watershed.


We got cans, crumpled them up, taped them together, and put tin foil over it. We then squirted water all over it.  When we squirted the water which we colored with blue food dye, the indents filled up, creating a water body.  The water in the lake came from the mountain when it rained.  Sometimes, water trickled downhill, creating a stream or river.  One model showed three lakes, seven major ponds, three wetlands and many smaller water features throughout, one waterfall and a river.  In another model, as soon as it rained, the water would run down a small ledge and into our lake.  It was not really a stream or river though.  The water only ran down the ledge when it rained, whereas other rivers and streams on our watershed held water even when it wasn’t raining. If there were any holes in the tin foil the water that ran over that spot went under the tinfoil and cans and became groundwater.  Groundwater is surface water that has soaked into the ground.  When we stopped quirting the blue water, the run-off stopped.


We then put three pieces of fabric onto three random spots.  The fabric symbolized wetlands.  Our point source of pollution was a drop of red food dye on the cloth that represented the wetland.    We made it rain again.  The dye would be a point source of pollution because you could point to it.  The point source of pollution spread almost all the way across one group’s watershed, and ended up in a small lake.  In another group, the red dye flowed into small streams and rivers and then collected in lakes and ponds.  Most of the pollution stayed there, but some overflowed and became groundwater.  A different group explained the pollution affected the watershed because it got spread out when it rained.  The point source of pollution ended up in their lake and in their mini-pond.  In another model the red food dye ran into streams and into lakes and ponds and into the ground.


We added dirt after that.  The dirt was a non-point source of pollution. Then we made it rain again.  The dirt mostly flowed through rivers and into the lakes we had.  A tiny bit of dirt was left over that didn’t flow away with the rivers.  One group placed the soil around the stream, finding out the dirt followed the stream and ran into the groundwater.  The non-point pollution affected our watershed and when you looked at the lakes and ponds you couldn’t say where the pollution was coming from.

Here is more of what we had to say after using our models:

This model helped me learn the connections between surface water and groundwater because whatever kind of water is on the surface eventually goes to the ground.

This taught me there is a big connection between surface water and groundwater.  This connection is that what goes on at the surface will end up in the ground at some point.

This model taught me about the connections between surface waters and groundwater because all the water on the top of the watershed will soon be down in the ground.

This model taught me about the connections of surface water and groundwater.  I learned that the water on the surface will eventually end up in the groundwater.  A negative fact about this though, is that if pollution is in the surface water, and it eventually goes into the ground, that pollution will travel and can hurt things that are under the ground.  This also happened to our model.  Some of the pollution went into our groundwater, but also went into our lakes and small ponds or puddles.

This project really helped me understand how pollution travels, and helped me learn about watersheds.