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On a spring day each year since 1996, TLEA has sponsored a Lake Day for some 110-150 sixth grade students. This day is the brainchild of Oxford teacher (and TLEA director) Sandy Roderick. Lake Day is TLEA’s way to teach students how to become good stewards of the natural environment. Far more than a field trip, Lake Day now involves a full day of learning at a lakeside setting. For the last several years Agassiz Village in Poland has served as an outdoor laboratory for Lake Day and has recently been referred to as AVEED or Agassiz Village Environmental Education Day.
The sixth graders from several schools in the Oxford Hills school district and their teachers put in considerable time preparing for the annual event as a regular part of their curriculum. In addition to studying environmental topics as part of this preparation, students also tie-dye T-shirts to wear at Agassiz Village.
Once the day itself begins, students break into mixed groups for a variety of activities led by teachers, TLEA volunteers, and volunteers from such organizations as the Oxford County and Androscoggin Valley Soil Conservation Districts, the DEP, MEEP, and Trout Unlimited. Students learn about climate change, the automobile, and the lake by studying TLEA’s records of ice-out dates on Thompson Lake. Other students walk around the grounds of the camp, observing and discussing erosion. Staff from the DEP lead others in a game called "Droplets and Downpours."
A MEEP volunteer discused alternative energy and demonstrated making s’mores in a solar oven. A retired teacher shared a story called Muddy Waters which actively involved students with a lake pollution demonstration. Trout Unlimited gentlemen involved students with fly casting and the importance of protecting our water sheds. Other Lake Day activities connected closely with the lake itself. For example, Tom Ray and Kathy Cain of TLEA taught students how to measure water quality by using a Secchi disk. Others searched for milfoil on a boat and trailer.
The Lake Day learning continues even after the Agassiz Village experience is over. The same pupils later participate in the popular "Hey You!" boat trip on the Songo River Queen in Naples. With the assistance of Lakes Environmental Association, TLEA also sponsors this two-hour cruise during which students are prompted to yell "Hey You!" to actors on the shore who are violating environmental rules. The students then explain to the violators that they are breaking the law when they add sand or cut trees on the waterfront. During the trip the students also perform tests to determine the water quality of Long Lake.
Thanks to TLEA's funding and many volunteers, over the years Lake Day has helped connect nearly 2,000 students to the natural world.
LAKE DAY - 2010
On Wednesday, May 26, 106 sixth graders from Otisfield Central School, Hebron Station School, and Oxford Elementary School spent the day at Agassiz Village in Poland. The weather was beautiful in contrast to last year’s torrential rain. Students arrived at 9:30 and started their day. Agassiz was a colorful place as students wore tee-shirts they had tie-dyed on preday activities on May 14. Hebron was orange, Otisfield yellow, and Oxford green.
The learning stations were similar to last year’s. Rick Micklon led students on a Lake Front Walk and Talk Tour. Retired teacher JoAnn Nickerson, assisted by Otisfield teacher Ruth Wilson, demonstrated pollution with an activity called Muddy Water. In an activity called “Droplets and Downpours, Ed from DEP showed students how raindrops collect materials as they head toward the lake. Mike from MEEP had the students experiment with alternative energy in an activity called “Making Electricity with Wind and Solar.” The highlight of this station was making S’mores.
Then students were split into two groups, one heading for fly casting led by four volunteers from the Mollyocket Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and one going to the hybrid car demo led by TLEA’s Chris Pottle. Chris instructed the students on “Climate Change, the Automobile, and the Lake,” sharing information about Thompson’s ice-out data. The last station involved TLEA directors Kathy Cain and Tom Ray who demonstrated water quality testing and milfoil removal. Finally, one unexpected guest showed up. The Hippobottomus with Rob McVety and one of his crew. Although they could only stay part of the day, they were a most popular addition to the Lake Day activities.
Then on June 9 we went on the Hey You Cruise on Long Lake in Naples. This trip was also sponsored by TLEA.
Thanks to TLEA, our sixth grade students ended their last year at their elementary schools on a high note. They not only learned about being better stewards of the earth, but they also made new friends that will be with them when they transfer to the Middle School.
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