LA Alternative Education students in the Senate Chamber of the Maine State House.

On Wednesday, January 22, eleven students in Lincoln Academy’s Alternative Education program visited the Maine State Museum and Maine State House in Augusta. Students enjoyed a guided program tracing the lobster industry and the history of lobstering in Maine and then had time to explore the museum on their own and find objects and exhibits that stood out to them. Students were assigned the task of finding three examples of ways that Mainers made a living over the years, including of course textile mills, fishing, and forestry.

After visiting the museum, students explored the State House with their instructors and were given a tour of the House and Senate chambers.

“These types of trips are a staple of learning in Alternative Education at Lincoln Academy,” said Luke Suttmeier, Director of the LA Alternative Education Program. “Teachers curate educational trips that provide on-site learning and also give students the opportunity for exploration based on individual interest.”

In addition to Suttmeier, Alternative Education teachers Jody Matta and Anna Myers accompanied Alternative Education students to Augusta.

“The Alt Ed science and social studies curricula provide students with a heavy dose of off-campus experiences, and thus far this year we’ve spent time at local sites including the Coastal Rivers Preserve, Fort William Henry, Pownalborough Courthouse, Rachel Carson Salt Pond, and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center, among many other places. Field trips are an important part of the hands-on learning that we offer through the program.”

Two students who went on the field trip to Augusta offered the following reflections.

Junior Grace Dancer wrote, “at the Maine State Museum we learned about the history of lobstering, and the laws that were made to protect the lobsters. When people first started lobstering, they would only take the really big lobsters. The bigger lobsters produce more eggs, so people taking all the really big lobsters brought down the lobster population by a lot. So laws were put in to protect the lobsters. So now if you go lobstering you have to throw back lobsters that are too big or too small. If it’s too big you have to throw it back so it can produce more eggs, and if it’s too small then it is young and has more time to grow and produce eggs. You also have to throw back lobsters that have a clutch of eggs on them. We also learned how traps were built and how they have changed over time. They used to be built out of wood, but over time the wood would warp and fall apart and have to be replaced. They are now made of metal which does not need to be replaced as quickly.”

Junior Toby Newton wrote about what he learned at the State House. “We were shown where the discussions of new laws take place in order to become an actual law. Before it becomes a law, it is called a bill. In order for that bill to become a law the House of Representatives take a vote on it. If more votes for it to not become a law, the idea gets trashed for the time being unless brought up again in the future. If the bill is passed then it goes to the Senate, but if the Senate does not approve or disapprove after a certain period of time, the bill is passed to become a law. We also learned that you can only run twice for the same position whether you lose or win the place, but after that you can run for a different seat. After getting the grand tour of the House, we were told that if you didn’t want to vote for that bill to become a law, you didn’t have to say yes or no, but once the doors closed, if you were in the room you had to vote. If you don’t want to vote, make sure you are not in the room after the doors have closed.”