All Aboard: Third Grade Students Explore Lake Memphremagog
How old is Lake Memphremagog? Where does all the water in the Lake come from? Who calls it home? Nearly 300 third grade students from Orleans County searched for answers to these questions on the Discovery Cruise aboard the Northern Star boat this spring. In the search, students were invited to become lake detectives, provided with helpful tools – binoculars, discovery guides, watershed maps, identification books, and their own powers of observation. During the quest, detectives had to abide by Captain Chris Johansen’s number one rule: to have fun! Facilitated by NorthWoods Stewardship Center and volunteers from the Memphremagog Watershed Association, students had great success. They identified the major tributaries of the Lake, and learned that a water drop entering the lake at the south end (Newport) takes about 2 years to travel the 32-mile length of the lake, before reaching the terminus at the St.Francis River. From here, it is a long journey through the St.Lawrence Seaway to the North Atlantic Ocean. Students observed the watershed with a bird’s eye view thanks to the help of Elle the Eagle, a puppet that soars high above the land, teaching kids how a watershed works, the shape of the land determining where watersheds divide, and where water will flow. Students found their watershed address, and realized that all the water in the lake comes from the watershed! Imaginations stretched back to the Abenaki encampments on the shores of the Lake, and further back to the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago, when Lake Memphremagog was formed, and the current landscape was shaped. From the bow and stern, students spotted gulls, loons, cormorants and a bald eagle, navigated by a light tower and a chain of islands, waved to fishermen, looked north to Canada and the predominant Owl’s Head Mountain. There were some unverified claims that even the mythic Memphre was spotted. The enthusiasm, awe and energy displayed by these inquisitive detectives made it clear that Lake Memphremagog is the perfect medium for discovery. These experiences were made possible by Northern Star Lake Cruises, Memphremagog Watershed Assocation, NorthWoods Stewardship Center, many volunteers, and the following support: Mr. Tony Pomerleau, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Blanchard Oil, Casella, North Country Hospital, Newport Rotary Club, Union Bank, Newport Rotary, Columbia Forest Products, Community National Bank, Fred’s Plumbing & Heating, Associates in Orthodontics, and Champlain Valley Equipment.
Maria C. Young - Director of Education and Outreach - NorthWoods Stewardship Center