In November, Boothbay Region, Southport and Edgecomb elementary schools began exploring the science of seaweed farming. Students were assisted by the Boothbay Sea and Science Center and a Maine Community Foundation grant for studying how seaweed or kelp grew. Students began growing seaweed in a classroom aquarium and later replanted the seaweed into the waters of East Boothbay.
On May 11, the three student groups presented their findings at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. During the 50-minute forum, students explained what they observed from Nov. 8 to April 26 as the seaweed grew. The students studied how various factors such as sunlight, salinity and temperature impacted seaweed's growth, length and texture.
The first presentation was made by Shawn Gallagher’s students at Southport Central School. Student presenters were Garrett Hurst, Robert Shaw and Corey Sherman. The second presentation was made by Michelle Miclette’s Boothbay Region Elementary School students. Student presenters were Jordan Chamness, Suzie Edwards, Charlee Fuchswanz, Maya Pangburn and Meg Sledge. Sarah Currier’s Edgecomb Eddy School students presented last. Student presenters were Hannah Abello, Imij Armstead, Emma Castonia, Abbie Clark, Lydia Currier, Anna Gosselin and Ismael Martinez.
Seaweed is grown worldwide and used in various products such as ice cream, salad, toothpaste, food additives and fertilizers. “Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming," a program about Maine aquaculture, integrates the seas, science, observation skills and real time data collection and analysis by students and teachers at the Boothbay Sea and Science Center. The program was directed toward fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the developing seaweed farming industry in Maine, especially in the Damariscotta River, according to center officials.
A second student-led seaweed research project will be funded next fall by the center and Maine Community Foundation. Whitefield and Wiscasset elementary students will study factors impacting seaweed growth.