Studying Alewives and the Kennebec River Transformation

This spring third, fourth, and fifth grade gifted and talented students in Belgrade, Oakland, and Sidney have been thinking about transformations – especially of the Kennebec River. That’s why they spent May 27th learning firsthand about alewives at Webber Pond in Vassalboro where the fish are easier to see.

Students learned that the Kennebec River changes dramatically along its length, and students recognized that the river has also transformed over time. Once wild and pristine, it became an industrial river – which has changed again into one that supports the east coast’s largest alewife run. 

The fish ladder at Webber Pond allows alewives who have swum up Seven Mile Brook from the Kennebec to return to their natal waters. Biologist, Ryan Burton, helped the kids learn about water quality indicators such as oxygen and macroinvertebrates, and he helped the students view the fish up close.

While onsite, the group also “smelled their way home” in a simulation of one of the ways alewives navigate. Students observed nature around them. Several parent volunteers were indispensable in making the day run smoothly. 

Back at school, these third, fourth, and fifth graders transformed themselves into salmon (and other sea-run fish) to play a game that simulates how hard it is for migratory fish to survive. At the end of the day, they made paper in recognition of the importance of that industry on the Kennebec. #WeAreRSU18

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