Student at Fort O’Brien Elementary School in Machiasport are learning what it means to become leaders, both in their school and in their community.  

In October, the 7 and 8 grade students participated in a geo-treasure hunt, in which the students used GPS (Global Positioning System) units to navigate to a series of specified locations around the school grounds. After they found each place with the GPS, they answered questions relevant to that particular location.

The 7th and 8th graders will take the skills they learned and teach them to the 5th and 6th graders, setting up a geo-treasure hunt for the younger students, and training them in the use of the GPS units.

The school originally became familiar with this technology through CREST (Community for Rural Education, Stewardship, and Technology)-an Island Institute project funded by the National Science Foundation that uses placed-based education to provide opportunities for hands-on technology education.  

The CREST program also involves community-related projects at each participating school, for which they apply the technologies they have learned; at Fort O’Brien the mainstay of their project has remained the creation of a park for the Town of Machiasport.

The students, concerned that kids in their community have no safe place to play and to meet up with each other, came up with this idea at the first CREST Summer Institute over two years ago, and have since been taking the necessary steps to make the town park become a reality.   The town selectmen have now provided land for this purpose, and community members are pulling together to volunteer their time to help in the physical creation of the park when the time comes.

In the meantime, the students have been working on creating a trail from the school to the ocean as practice, and will use the GPS units and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer mapping software to map this trail. With the students taking on such leadership roles, their increasingly strong CREST team will likely accomplish much this year and continue to have a positive impact on their community.