In May, nearly 45 fifth graders from Thomaston Grammar School traveled to Portland’s waterfront to participate in the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s LabVenture! program.

From the moment the marine-themed bus arrived at their school, students were immersed in science. The program, entitled Lobster: Untold Tales, provided students with a unique opportunity to take on the role of scientist as they experience life at a working marine research facility. Hands-on activities are modeled on actual scientific research being conducted by marine scientists at work along the coast of Maine.

Students handled live lobsters and worked in student-led teams studying adaptations, diet, habitat, behavior and economics. They also learned how inland watersheds are connected to the Gulf of Maine.

With schools facing tight budgets, the local corporate and philanthropic community has come together to enable students to participate free of charge. Thanks to lead corporate partner Poland Spring, as well as many other sponsors, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute provides LabVenture! at no cost to schools or families, including transportation.

“Poland Spring is a great partner,” said Gulf of Maine Research Institute President Don Perkins in a news release. “They make it possible to transport kids from every county in Maine to experience a working research facility. Poland Spring’s commitment to Maine, and to the scientific study of the state’s renewable resources, is extraordinary.”

“It is vital to Maine’s economy that we all work together to increase science literacy among Maine children and give the next generation the knowledge and skills to protect our shared water resources well into the future,” said Bill Maples, Poland Spring’s Northeast Operations Director. “Poland Spring is proud to support and help fund the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s LabVenture! program.”

To date, Poland Spring has provided lead corporate support for the program totaling $1.5 million. Additional funding comes from FMC Corporation and Edwin S. Webster Foundation.