Dozens of Sumner High School studentsspent the day Thursday digging for clams in Gouldsboro.
"It's terrific to watch them, watch them work, the aha moments," said Steven Belyea, a teacher with the Sumner High School Alternate Pathways program.
The students are studying shellfish at an abandoned lobster pound at Jones Cove.
"These students are collecting samples along the outside of pound and inside the pound to see what there is naturally for clams," said Belyea.
"You put a box down, and you have it so you can see the marks from it, and then you use the hoe to move the mud on top of it off and see how many clams we can find," said Britney McAlpine, a student at Sumner HS.
Green crabs have been preying on the clam population.
"The shellfish committees don't have a good handle on crab predation, and what we're doing over the course of the year will actually provide information that we just don't have," said Bill Zoellick, education research director at the Schoodic Institute.
The research will provide local scientists with data they can use to prevent crabs from destroying the clams.
"Keeping the population up keeps the diggers in business, if there's no clams you can't dig," said Payton Rotta, a student at Sumner HS.
The students counting clam got very dirty in the process. But the mud and the muck on everyone's shoes will all wash off. At the end of the day, what will stick with these students is knowing that the research they do here has real world applications.
"People are counting on this data. The kids really view the whole experience differently and they are certainly more careful about collecting the data," said Zoellick. "They know that it matters."
"If we increase the amount of clams in the area, then they may have a chance to get a career in finding clams or sustaining themselves as they go through life," said Belyea.