Maine Lakes Society’s Drew Morris casts off the line mooring the Melinda Ann to the dock at Wilson Lake in Wilton. Captain Peter Kallin stands at the head of the boat filled with Academy Hill School students embarking on a tour of the lake where they will learn about the various equipment and tests used to monitor water quality. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

WILTON — Friends of Wilson Lake and the Maine Lakes Society once again brought a floating classroom to fourth grade Academy Hill School students.

On Friday, June 7, students took turns boarding the MLS research boat the Melinda Ann to learn firsthand about tests and readings taken from Wilson Lake that help monitor water quality. While one group of students was on the water, remaining students participated in various activities in Bass Park.

On Wilson Lake, some parameters are monitored year–round with help from University of Maine at Farmington students. Data comparisons are used to determine changes in the lake’s water quality.

As the first group of students headed out on Wilson Lake, FOWL member Sandy Muller said a group of town officials would be taking a tour Saturday similar to what the students were experiencing.

“Not just lake people signed up for the tours. Officials want to see what’s going on. We’re real pleased with that,” she said.

The Melinda Ann, a large pontoon boat, is equipped with many tools for learning about the lake


Academy Hill School fourth grade students head out on the Melinda Ann, the Maine Lakes Society research boat, to learn about monitoring water quality on Wilson Lake in Wilton. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harndenand its inhabitants including:

  • A remote operated vehicle with a 150–foot tether, a camera with thruster and lights and a video monitor for a wonderful underwater view of the lake and its inhabitants at various levels.
  • A plankton tow that collects samples of zooplankton bringing them to the boat for viewing using a Ken–a–Vision microscope projector.
  •  A water column sampler to demonstrate how one can take samples of the water at various depths.
  •   A dissolved oxygen probe to compare oxygen levels and water temperature at different depths.
  •   An Aqua–Scope and Secchi Disk to learn how water clarity is monitored throughout the summer.

Students helped collect data using the various equipments.

At Bass Park, AHS teacher Morgan Badeau said students could rotate through several stations including board and bat games, paper airplanes, art in the park and a watershed demonstration table.

“We study the environment in class, do the water cycle. Jen Jespersen of with Ecological Instincts, who has been involved with Wilton’s watershed survey and grant projects resulting from survey results, talked with the students about water ecology and how to protect the environment.

“We did a salmon release in the Sandy River. About 160 fry were released before Memorial Day weekend,” she said.

Students learned how to make paper airplanes then tested how different variations in design affected flight distance.


Art supplies were used to create replicas of trees, rocks and other natural things observed in the park.

The swing sets and other playground equipment also saw much use.

Jespersen talked about watersheds and how erosion can lead to pollution. The students took turns changing the watershed demonstration table to see different forms of erosion and the resulting impacts.

“It’s always exciting to see kids learn about their environment, things that are local,” Badeau said.

At the watershed demonstration table, AHS students from left AJ Fuentes, Lily Sparks and Abby Walker listen as Jennifer Jespersen talks about erosion and water pollution. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden


AHS students used a watershed demonstration table to learn about erosion and water pollution. Pictured are students Abby Walker, Logan Jackson, Evan Demings, AJ Fuentes, Lily Sparks and adults Jennifer Jespersen and Dan Cronin. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden



AHS fourth grade student Brooke McCormick performs a cartwheel at Bass Park in Wilton Friday, June 7. The students enjoyed several outdoor learning activities but also had time to enjoy their natural surroundings. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden


AHS fourth grade students from left Jade Fitch, Savannah Cole and Justin Turner perfected their paper airplane making skills at an outdoor activity at Bass Park in Wilton Friday, June 7. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

AHS fourth grade students from left Haley Hall, Abbie Garland and Damien Durrell observed the environment around them before drawing pictures of what they saw during an outdoor learning activity at Bass Park in Wilton Friday, June 7. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

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