AWWA in the Schools!

It’s been a busy few weeks at AWWA! We’ve been visiting the Acton and Wakefield elementary schools for our 6th grade module on watersheds and invasive species. Yesterday was an especially exciting day, as we had our brook trout release with the Paul School 4th graders!

Our trout are finally free in the world! We had a wonderful time yesterday afternoon releasing our trout in a stream behind the Paul School. Each student had a cup with two trout that they were able to set free. From stream habitat to life cycles, it was great to see how much the kids have learned over the past several months about brook trout and how they grow.

We also had a great time in the 6th grade this week. The students are extremely enthusiastic about the activities we bring to these classrooms. Below is an overview of the modules that have been on-going all month.

Introduction to Watersheds

This unit is designed to have students communicate scientific procedures and explanations through a variety of activities. Students demonstrate that clean water is essential to all aspects of life on earth, and they expand understanding between human activities and water quality. Students also learn how to identify and define a watershed by creating models to demonstrate how water flows.

Invasive Species

This unit is focused on invasive species and their impacts on native plants and animals. Students develop an understanding of how adaptations enhance survival of a species and what characterizes an invasive species. Students spend the class period identifying native and invasive aquatic plants such as milfoil, starwort, pondweeds, bladderwort, and many others using a dichotomous key. Green crabs are also brought in to discuss invasive aquatic creatures and their impact on local species. Students are asked to think about why invasive species may be more successful, and out-compete native species.



Students will also study live macroinvertebrates that they will collect at the Province Lake Golf Course next week. These aquatic bugs include dragonfly nymphs, beetles, crayfish, stoneflies, and many other critters. Some learned skills include collection and identification of macroinvertebrates. Students will also perform water quality tests, and asses stream health by assessing what species are present.

Through all of these experiences it’s also very rewarding to work with teachers who are dedicated to scientific learning. Both Acton and Wakefield have been great to work with, and the students respond extremely well to hands on learning.

Stay tuned for an update on our field trip to the Province Lake Golf Course!

Thank You to Our Business Partners!

Each year businesses in our communities do their part to help AWWA keep our lakes beautiful. Our Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) provides a valuable service each summer by resolving erosion problems that would impact the health of our lakes. In 2016, the 22 businesses below gave generously to the YCC. Not only did our lakes benefit, but a hardworking group of teens gained job skills and learned how to be good stewards to our lakes. We are so grateful for support of our business partners, and hope you will join us in thanking them! Our 2017 appeal is now underway. If your business, or one you know, would like to become a Clean Water Partner and be featured on our 2017 crew t-shirts, please get in touch with us today!

Thank you Clean Water Partners! We couldn’t do it without you.


Tank Tales Update #5

This week our Paul School 4th graders learned how their aquarium is set up to simulate nature! Brook trout require certain conditions in order to thrive, and the 4th graders did a great job of guessing how we meet the trout’s needs while they’re growing in the classroom. Check out the chart below to see conditions in nature vs. the aquarium.

The students also completed an activity where they were given a set of photos, and had to rank the trout habitat from 1 (the best) to 4 (the worst). In addition to ranking the photos, they also had to give an explanation for their choices. The better habitats had shade, moving water, and presumably a rocky or gravel bottom. The worse habitats had little to no shade, stagnant water, and visible signs of pollution or potential pollution. It was great to see that students knew the obvious answer of which habitat was best, but they had to support their choices by explaining why the poorer habitats are not ideal for trout.

After the activity, the students checked in on the tank to see their development. According to our development calculations, our trout will be swimming in a couple of weeks! Once they start swimming, we will begin feeding them fish food. At that point the tank will begin to look like a typical aquarium with fish moving around, instead of sitting on the bottom. The tank will also require frequent water changes, and rocks will be added to the bottom, giving the trout places to hide.

Keep checking back with us to stay updated on all things trout!

Wakefield 7th Graders Test Their Well Water

It’s that time of year again! Around this time every year, AWWA and a team of volunteers head into the Acton Elementary School and the Wakefield Paul School for some fun activities. This week we were in the Paul School, and next week we will be testing with Acton! Well water testing is part of our groundwater curriculum for 7th graders. AWWA visits each classroom three times for this module, and the response is always rewarding.

Students testing to see how hard their water is.

The goal of this program is to have students understand where their drinking water comes from, what may be in it, and ultimately testing water from their homes.This project is about giving the students a chance to be real scientists, and teaches them how to follow scientific procedure.  Amy Arsenault, AWWA’s program manager, kicks off the module by giving a presentation to each 7th grade class. This presentation is designed to introduce students to the topic, and to give them information pertaining to groundwater, well water, contamination, and an intro to the upcoming testing day. Students are given a sample bottle to bring home, with instructions on how to properly collect their water.



After the initial presentation, students have typically have about a week to bring in their sample. Testing day requires several volunteers that assist the students at each station, guiding them through the procedures. The parameters students are testing are: pH, conductivity, hardness, chloride, iron, nitrates, and a computer station.

AWWA would like to thank our volunteers for assisting with our testing day in Wakefield: Gavin Kearns (Wakefield 7th grade teacher), Cindy Eggleston (retired science teacher), Rosemary Stewart (AWWA board member), Pete Dinger (AWWA board member), Dave Mankus, Patti Connaughton-Burns (MMRG), and all other classroom aides that help make this possible.





Nitrates: They are the primary active ingredient in many fertilizers, and are colorless, odorless and tasteless.

pH: Measure of how acidic your water is. Low pH in water can leach toxic metals from plumbing systems into the water.

Conductivity: A measurement of the ions in a solution. High conductivity levels could be a sign of contamination from sewage or industrial waste.

Chloride: A key component of sodium chloride (salt). Roads can contribute as well as septic systems.

Total Iron: Iron related bacteria are responsible for the orange, rusty water spots often found on flatware. High levels could mean corroding pipes.

Hardness: The amount of dissolved Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg). Hard water will not “sud” and creates white deposits on pipes and fixtures.

Watching the clock to allow chemicals to react.


Tank Tales Update #4

Most of our eggs have turned into alevin, and only a few have yet to make the transition! All we have to do now is wait until they absorb their yolk sacs, and then we’ll have fingerlings to start feeding. Seeing the transformation from egg to alevin makes the process very real. When we first picked up the eggs, they were tiny and motionless. Now we have small creatures resembling trout, that wriggle around in the tank with big round silver eyes. 

The alevin have been growing and getting bigger with time.

Every day the students rotate checking on the tank, recording it’s temperature, and make note of any eggs that die. When they die, they turn white and must be removed to prevent any harmful bacteria from spreading to the others.

Alevin and eggs that are dead turn white.

The biggest excitement today was a two-headed trout! The students were extremely interested in how and why this happened. Some were fascinated and loved it, while others were sickened at the sight. We’re all curious to see how this little guy progresses!

Two headed trout.

If you’re curious what the tank looks like all set up, check out the video below to see!

Tank Tales Update #3

On Friday, our fourth grade classes learned about general fish anatomy! The first thing I had the students do was to try and label the basic parts of a fish using a word key. After much debate and uncertainty of their choices, we went over the answers. For a Friday afternoon, the students were extremely engaged and excited to be learning about the animals growing in the back of their classroom. Most could identify the gills, the lateral line, and even the dorsal fin. The other fins are harder to identify, and so are some of their functions. By the end of the class the students knew what all the fins were, and why fish need them.

See below for the fins and their functions.

Caudal Fin: Pushes and steers the trout. They are made of bony spines with skin covering them and joining them together. They can be webbed, as seen in most bony fish, or similar to a flipper, as seen in sharks.

Pectoral Fins: Allows for abrupt changes in side-to-side direction and speed; also acts as brakes to decrease speed while swimming.

Dorsal Fin: Helps keep fish steady. Protects the fish against rolling, and help with sudden turns and stops.

Pelvic Fins: Helps fish swim up and down, turn, and stop quickly.

Anal Fin: Helps keep fish stable while swimming.

Lateral Line: Senses movement and vibration in the water. Helps fish be aware of their surroundings.

Adipose Fin: Soft and fleshy. Its purpose is a mystery, but it may be a sensory function and could be important for the detection and response to sound and changes in pressure.

Gills: Take in oxygen from the water, and allows fish to breathe.

After the anatomy lesson, we took out our trout eggs and alevin to do some observations. The students answered some questions, such as; do they have fins?, what’s the most interesting thing about them?, how well do they swim? etc. By far one of the most interesting things for these fourth graders, was the fact that the alevin feed off of a yolk sac.

We also discussed the life cycle stages of trout and the capabilities they have now versus the future. Currently the alevin can wiggle around, but they do not have the fins they need to swim. As our trout progress, they will begin to grow fins and will have more freedom to move around the tank.

AWWA is thrilled that the students are embracing this wonderful experience!

Super Bowl Sunday Tailgate Brunch

Join us Sunday, February 5th, 10:30 – 12:30!

We hope your new year is off to a good start! Here at AWWA we are gearing up for another busy season and we have an exciting new way to jump start our year. Our friends at the Poor People’s Pub in Sanbornville are hosting a Super Bowl Sunday Tailgate Brunch in our honor, with a percentage of proceeds to benefit our Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). Our YCC is made up of a group of hardworking, local teens, and not only do they do a lot of great work for our lakes each summer, but they also gain valuable work experience in the process. Come enjoy a fun brunch with friends, and support AWWA at the same time – in true Super Bowl spirit, it’s win-win!

Tank Tales Update #2

It’s been four days since our trout were delivered to the Paul School in Wakefield. After a rough count of the eggs in the tank, it looks like we have around 230! So far we’ve only had one egg turn white and die. It is important to take out dead eggs as soon as possible, in order to keep any potentially harmful bacteria from spreading to the other eggs.

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Can you spot the egg that’s in the Alevin stage?

Most of our eggs are still in the Strongly Eyed stage and are currently 53.52% developed. We also had one egg enter the Alevin (al-e-vun) stage. At this stage the trout has emerged from the egg, and you can see that the egg sac is still attached to the trout. The trout will continue to feed off of its egg sac, which contains all of the food it needs during this step. Eventually the sac will disappear and absorb into the trout, and at this point we will have to provide them with food.


Trout in the Alevin (al-e-vun) stage.

Keep checking back in with us for more updates!

Welcome to Tank Tales!

Welcome to our latest series of blog posts! We will periodically update our blog with what’s happening in the 4th grade classrooms in Wakefield, NH, as they partake in an environmental and educational endeavor.

Yesterday was an exciting day at the Paul School. The room was buzzing as three 4th grade classes looked at me with inquisitive eyes. What could possibly be in the DSCN0393cooler? Could it be more than one? The students had a variety of guesses as to what creature(s) would be living in their classroom. With a tank set up in the corner, imaginations had a week to run wild, as the possibility of having a turtle, a shark, or even a penguin was still plausible. Luckily, the anticipation was almost over, as the big reveal was imminent. Soon, the students would find out what would be living in that tank.

As a jar emerged from the cooler, a chorus of “Eggs!” rang out, and this time the students were right. The excitement in the room was infectious as they learned about their upcoming months with their….drum roll… brook trout eggs! Eggs were passed around in clear cups so students could examine them closer with magnifying glasses. It’s great to see such enthusiasm in this group of students!





Students will track daily development as they experience brook trout evolve from egg to fry. Over the coming months they will learn about anatomy, water quality, habitat, food webs and much more. Because trout development is temperature dependent, daily tracking is necessary to determine life cycle stages. The warmer the water, the quicker they develop, and our goal is to keep the tank at a range of 35° – 38°F. Development is measured using the Brook Trout Developmental Index Chart.

Brook Trout Developmental Index 
Temp F 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9
35 0.41 0.416 0.422 0.428 0.434 0.441 0.447 0.453 0.459 0.465
36 0.471 0.477 0.483 0.489 0.495 0.502 0.508 0.514 0.52 0.526
37 0.532 0.538 0.544 0.55 0.556 0.562 0.568 0.574 0.58 0.586
38 0.592 0.598 0.604 0.61 0.616 0.623 0.629 0.635 0.641 0.647
39 0.653 0.659 0.665 0.671 0.677 0.684 0.69 0.696 0.702 0.708
40 0.714 0.722 0.729 0.737 0.745 0.753 0.76 0.768 0.776 0.783

How to use the chart:

  • The left hand column is temperature in Fahrenheit; 35, 36, 37, etc.
  • The row across the top is tenths of degrees (the decimal); 35.3, 36.4, 37.5, etc.
  • The decimal figures found at the intersection of the left hand column and the row across the top represent how much the eggs developed at a certain temperature.
  • The goal is to have a cumulative total of all the daily development percentages.


  • At 35.1°F, the eggs have developed 0.416% for that day at that temperature.
  • At 35.2°F, the eggs have developed 0.422% for that day at that temperature.

Total development = 0.838%

Development Stages:

  • Weakly eyed 29%
  • Shocking 38-42%
  • Strongly eyed 47% (Our eggs are currently at this stage; approx. 52% developed)
  • Hatched 73%
  • Swim up 100%

Schools all across New Hampshire are participating in the Trout in the Classroom program, which is facilitated by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and in partnership with Trout Unlimited. Our eggs were provided by the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery in New Durham.

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Check back in with our blog as the Paul School 4th graders partake in this awesome educational experience!

Amy Arsenault
Program Manager

AWWA’s 2016 Annual Meeting a Success!


Thank you to the Union Heritage Park Railroad Museum for hosting our annual meeting yesterday! Our guests especially enjoyed the model layout of the villages of Wakefield. We had a wonderful afternoon with our guests who joined us for a museum tour, an AWWA activities update, and a meet and greet with Wakefield’s new Shoreland Compliance Officer, Victor Vinagro. Thank you to all that attended and coordinated the event!