Washington County April 1, 2023

The Science of Snow

Machias Youth Investigate Snows’ Impact on the Ecosystem

Collaborative efforts between Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Rose M Gaffney Elementary and Porter Memorial Library developed into an immersive connected learning experience for youth in Machias. Their goal was for youth to learn about the important ecological role snow plays in their local ecosystem and how our changing climate is impacting snowpack trends in their community.

This learning journey began with fifth-grade students venturing into a snowy field experience in Middle River Park in Machias. There they had the opportunity to act as snow scientists by engaging in a hands-on investigation about the properties of snow and also had the opportunity to collect snowpack data.

Their exploration continued back in the classroom alongside their second-grade peers. Together they explored the trails behind their school for animal tracks, and learned about how animals rely on snow for survival.

These learning experiences were complemented with an event at Porter Memorial Library, where youth joined others in the community in reading “The Story of Snow” as an introduction to the concept of snow crystal formation and diversity. The group then went outside to continue the conversation as they searched for snowflakes and animal tracks.

These woven experiences of place-based, hands-on investigations helped these youth to make connections between climate change and how little snow they had received this year.

This team of educators engaged 78, second and fifth graders this past year and hope to expand this program in future years to additional schools and libraries.