Ninth-grade students studying earth science at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School set out to study and reduce erosion at two local lakes. The students in John Haley’s class began in the fall with an investigation of how phosphorus affects nearby Norway Lake and how erosion might be affecting a beach area on nearby Mirror Pond.
After a field trip to two potential sites, students decided there was a greater community need at the Mirror Pond beach.
The students learned about past efforts to control erosion at the beach site by touring the campground with the president of the pond association. Back in the classroom they researched ways to improve the current shore and learned that erosion causes phosphorus to enter the lake along with other non-point source pollutants. Phosphorus contributes to algae growth, oxygen loss, and fish death.
Throughout the winter months, students suggested several solutions, which they proposed to a panel of community partners that included the Green and Mirror Ponds Association, the Oxford Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Mirror Pond Campground Managers.
Action groups were created and students researched solutions and needs for design, native plants, log water bars and erosion control mulch.
In June of 2011, the project was implemented. Students created a meandering path to preserve the beach and using log terracing and erosion control mulch, they landscaped the area and planted native plants to create a vegetative buffer.
Students demonstrated what they learned by working in small teams and presenting a possible solution to a panel of experts/community partners. The whole group worked together to make a plan for the final project and to implement the erosion control measures.