Hancock County & Midcoast Maine | April 1, 2021

Meadow Brook Preserve rainbow smelt

The community of St. George continued its tradition of engaging youth in the history, culture, and natural resources of the town by partnering on the interdisciplinary work led by its teachers. Students used what they learned about smelt fishing in a citizen science project and to create a podcast that they shared back to the community.

In collaboration with our town’s Conservation Commission, St. George School was a partner to produce an educational component related to Meadow Brook Preserve and its trail. Local residents spoke to students and shared stories about smelting when they were kids and the changes they have seen. The students participated in the Smelt Spawning citizen science project on the Ecosystem Investigation Network and worked to create a fabulous podcast that ties in their knowledge, scientific data, and local cultural history of smelt in the preserve and smelt fishing.

smelting

Relational thinking about ecosystems, resources, and culture can be highly engaging when learned through storytelling. Our school has a rich tradition of teachers designing interdisciplinary units that highlight the history, culture, and natural resources of our town with the intentional goal of students strengthening their sense of belonging in the community and fostering a sense of stewardship of local resources. Students related to climate changes and ecosystem changes through a local lens. Students had ownership in the podcast product through their own reflections and recordings.

Ideas for next time:

  • Have students make multiple visits to the preserve (consider time and transportation)
  • Schedule visit for a researcher from the Smelt Spawning Project outside of their project season
  • Cook some smelt from the market if in season
  • Have students spend more time with data from the Smelt Spawning Project
  • Get students more involved in the decision-making process of finalizing the podcast

This activity exemplified the following Connected Learning Ecosystem attributes:

  • Connecting informal and formal learning
  • Investigating climate change

Submitted by Alison England, St. George School, St. George, Maine.