younger than 18 can ride Metro and South Portland city buses anywhere the bus goes, anytime from June to August for $20. The 2010 Summer Youth Bus Pass is now on sale, providing bus service in Portland, Westbrook, South Portland and Falmouth. Bike racks and wheelchair lifts are available on all buses.

The passes and bus schedules are available where most bus tickets are sold, including Metro offices on Elm Street, at 114 Valley St. and Hannaford and Shaw’s locations on bus routes, the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal and Portland and South Portland city halls. For more information, visit www.gpmetrobus.com or call 774-0351.

STUDENTS from Falmouth Middle School and Lyseth Elementary School, in Portland tried their hands as scientists for a day during a “Lobster LabVenture!” at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Students investigated the ecology and management issues surrounding Maine’s most iconic marine species, with a unique opportunity to conduct hands-on research using authentic tools and techniques.

Students handled live lobsters to examine adaptations for defense and migration and learned about habitat and behavior by exploring the underwater world and capturing videos in a live exhibit. Using digital microscopes, students identified the tiny organisms that make up the diet of larval lobsters, and they also took a virtual lobstering trip.

This “LabVenture!” was made possible thanks to many local sponsors, allowing the institute to offer the hands-on learning experience at no cost. Since 2006, more than 42,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students from every county in Maine have participated.

students last week built six solar panels that were installed on the roof of the concession building at the school’s Memorial Stadium. Deering senior Josh Snyder led the project, which stemmed from an idea he had after he learned about solar panel building while participating in the Green Energy Project at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport.

The school’s Environmental Club raised more than $1,000 to purchase the materials, soliciting donations from each of the classes, as well as local businesses and community members. Portland Glass also donated six panes of tempered glass required for the panels, which will produce 400 watts of electricity. This solar power will provide enough to run a large clock at the stadium’s concession stand that will be donated by the graduating class of 2010.

The Portland Water District’s Classroom Hatcheries Program
will allow students from nine schools to participate in “The Release” this week. Classes have spent the year nurturing baby trout eggs in chilled incubator tanks while learning basics of water quality protection. The program combines hands-on learning of maintaining the trout habitat with studying a range of subjects, including ecosystems and biodiversity, water quality and pollution, habitat protection, trout anatomy and life cycle, data collection and analysis, and watershed protection.

Seven classes released earlier this month, and a seventh release is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today  and an eighth on Friday.

Before students release the fry, they will determine if the location is clean or polluted through various tests, identifying whether or not the water quality is acceptable for the release.

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