Some 50 fourth- and fifth-grade students and their teachers from Vinalhaven and North Haven schools attended the Lobster Education Fair at the Island Institute on May 12.

Jeff Killian, an Island Institute Fellow on Deer Isle/Stonington, introduced students to a new lobster fishing computer game he designed. Using computer simulation techniques and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps, the game teaches about fishing economics and other factors such as weather, temperature and habitat that affect the lobster fishery in Maine.

Jen Litteral, Marine Programs Officer at the Institute, gave a presentation on lobster genetics, food and hatcheries that engaged her listeners around the question of why some lobsters are blue (and why a blue lobster is so rare). Under her direction, students studied dissected lobsters and used a sheet of clues to identify the crustaceans’ major body parts that had been marked with numbered pins.

Ed Monat, the owner of Diver Ed’s Dive-in Theater Boat Cruises in Bar Harbor, conducted an interactive presentation with sea creatures from the Gulf of Maine in a “touch tank” set up in the Institute’s kitchen.

Teachers attending the fair were able to meet and exchange school-based lobster curriculum projects as well as talk about ways the Island Institute could support their classroom work. A list of lobster-related web resources, compiled by Ally Day, an Island Institute Fellow on Vinalhaven, provided the teachers with additional ideas on how to use lobster fishing as a teaching tool.

At the end of the day, each student designed a quilt square depicting the most interesting thing they learned from the day’s activities.

The fair was funded by a grant from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Lobster Plate Fund. The same grant also supported a series of lobster-related articles in The Working Waterfront over the past year, as well as the development of a new curriculum portal that will debut in June on the LobsterTales Web site ( to allow teachers to share lobster-related curriculum plans and materials.

The fair was planned by Nicole Ouellette, the Institute’s Place-Based Education Officer, who is stationed on Vinalhaven, and Ruth Kermish-Allen the Institute’s Education Outreach Officer.