OPEN DAILY 9:30 to 5

Sense of Place

In partnership with Regional School Unit 1, the local school district including the surrounding towns of Bath, Phippsburg, and Woolwich

Maine Maritime Museum’s Sense of Place program is designed to introduce students to their hometown heritage and the varied ways this heritage and history has evolved and changed over time. The interdisciplinary curriculum introduces students to topics in environmental history and ecology, economics and civics, geography, Wabanaki studies, and US History and Globalization. The program serves all 2nd, 4th, and 7th grade students (600+ in total) in Regional School Unit 1 on repeated field trips to the museum over the course of the academic year. Students link critical moments and issues of the past with their everyday lives in order better understand the world around them. The curriculum scaffolds critical thinking and primary source analysis skills, cultivates creative problem solving through guided inquiry instruction, and demonstrates the importance of questions, reconsiderations, and differing perspectives when thinking about cultural heritage.

”A Sense of Place allows for growth in the pride students feel for the place in which they are growing up and in their understanding of the importance local maritime culture, economics, and history plays in this place and its continued development.”
”Bath Middle School’s 7th grade students are privileged to have the opportunity to participate in Maine Maritime Museum’s Sense of Place programming. Students have an opportunity to explore their local history beyond what I’m able to provide in my classroom.
Sarah, Luke, and all the wonderful volunteers facilitate an enriching hands-on analysis of authentic primary artifacts and spin the learning to incorporate higher-level critical thinking skills. Each visit builds off the next at a level that’s just right for my students.”
“Sarah and Luke are amazing assets to the school community. Their Sense of Place program encourages students to think critically about how humans have historically interacted with the environment. Students are shown, through regional tools of industry, how Mainers have learned to innovate and adapt their practices in order to sustain a balance between the environment and continued livelihoods.”/testimonialitem]
”My students have been given the opportunity to look and handle a variety of maps, historical documents, photos, and tools. Sarah, Luke, and the volunteers rarely tell my 7th graders what to think or what artifact they’re being provided with. Instead, they’re encouraged to be critical thinkers and are skillfully guided to draw their own conclusions based on connections built from one visit to the next.”

2nd Grade Program Summary

2 Sessions

The Sense of Place second-grade curriculum introduces students to the human-use of our local rivers and oceans. Students learn about local natural resources that fueled Maine’s shipbuilding industry and present-day fisheries. Instructors focus on the lobstering industry to introduce concepts of sustainability, business, and innovation.


Primary Themes:

  • Natural Resources and Local Waterways
  • Wooden Shipbuilding
  • Lobstering & Sustainability



Maine’s Waterways and Ships

Students identify various bodies of water in their local hometowns, including the Kennebec River, Merrymeeting Bay, and the Gulf of Maine. Students work together to build a model of a wooden schooner to open questions of how Maine’s natural resources and waterways helped define the types of industries and businesses that we see today.



Lobsters & Lobstering

Students get an up-close look at a live lobster to learn about its anatomy, habitat, and life cycle. Using an interactive game, instructors introduce the complexity of the Lobstering economy that features lobstermen, lobster pounds, exports, and consumers. To solidify the connections between local ecology and industry, students are then asked to think about creative innovations we can use to ensure that humans do not harm our local environment and also protect local business.

4th Grade Program Summary

2 Sessions

The Sense of Place fourth-grade curriculum directly connects with Maine State Education Standards that ensure Wabanaki Studies is taught in all Maine public schools. Using artifacts from MMM’s collection, instructors use guided inquiry methods to encourage student-driven discussion based on observation and critical thinking. Artifacts such as birch bark canoes, leister spears, colonial maps, and archival images of Maine’s logging and fishing industries allow students to compare and contrast different uses and perspectives of the land and water throughout the region’s history. Students discuss Wabanaki heritage as a living culture that continues to advocate for the responsible stewardship of our natural resources, past and present. All fourth grade students have the opportunity to experience our local waterways on a two-hour cruise along the Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay where educators link Wabanaki history with issues in sustainability and ecology.


Primary Themes:

  • Wabanaki Culture and Heritage
  • Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay Ecology
  • Wabanaki Stewardship of the Land, Present and Future


Session 1 – (MMM, 90 min)

Wabanaki: Stewards of the Land and Water

Students are introduced to Wabanaki culture and history through direct access to MMM’s collection and archives. All students explore collection storage and galleries to compare and contrast Wabanaki birch bark canoes to fiberglass recreational canoes to better understand the origins and appropriations of this Wabanaki. Next students are invited to handle and observe Wabanaki artifacts and archival documents to better understand how their culture past and present is tied to sustainable practices.


Session 2 – (MMM, 90 min)

Merrymeeting Bay Ecology Cruise

Students take a two-hour cruise up the Kennebec River to the ecologically unique Merrymeeting Bay. Along the way, students identify and learn about local plants and animals. Educators introduce the local habitats, Abenaki use of the land, and how lessons in sustainability can help ensure the health and accessibility of this waterway in the future.

7th Grade Program Summary

4 Sessions

The Sense of Place seventh-grade curriculum traces continuity and change in the maritime world and its effect on shaping our local communities, environment, and culture. Over the course of four sessions, students learn to discern between fact, fiction, and inherent bias in various types of archival material. Students examine the ways in which these sources influence how local histories are written, rewritten, and erased over time. The four sessions are designed as single thematic units that scaffold increasingly complex concepts and skills. Each session introduces a new geographic theme, expanding from local to global over the course of the program. Each session will also challenge the students to continually (re)consider how historical primary sources support or contradict their own knowledge and views of their local histories to build a more complex and rich view of their communities. The program will conclude with a capstone project that captures students’ understanding of the complexities and contradictions present in unraveling the social, economic, and environmental heritage of a community.


Primary Objectives:

  • To build primary source analysis and research skills through the study of maps, journals, archival documents, visual material, and artifacts
  • To identify perspectives and acknowledge bias
  • To formulate arguments and opinions based on primary source evidence
  • To foster a deeper and richer understanding of the influence of the maritime world on local communities

Primary Themes:

  • Geography of Bath-Brunswick-Woolwich
  • Environmental Impact of Human Consumption of Natural Resources
  • Economic and Social Impact of Global Shipping Routes
  • Cultural Appropriation and Stereotypes


  • Maine Maritime Museum Exhibit featuring student work created over the four sessions
  • “Zine” featuring student reflections on their hometowns, past and present, featuring collage, art, written content, etc.


Session 1 – In-School (50 minutes)

Location & Place: Mapping Maps

Using the geographic concepts of Location and Place, students will determine why the natural features of Bath (and surrounding communities) were ideal for colonization and shipbuilding. Students will then identify subjective and objective information in historical and current maps to connect how various communities gained or lost ownership of the land and waterways. Based on their new understanding of mapmaking, students will work together to create a “history map” of their community that locates, interprets, and connects elements of their hometowns, past and present. Educators will introduce basic skills in identifying a primary source, close-looking, comparing and contrasting sources, and differentiating between objectivity and subjectivity.


Session 2 – MMM (120 minutes)

Environment-Human Interaction: Competition and Innovations

Students will explore the complexity of the human impact on the Kennebec River through a comparison of two seemingly contradictory perspectives and agendas: an environmentalist and an industrialist. Taking on one of these two perspectives, students will analyze whether specific artifacts would support or obstruct their respective agendas. Through this process, students trace the environmental history of the region from two viewpoints, illustrating the power of biased perspective in interpreting facts and forming arguments. Though these perspectives are at times in opposition, students will consider whether current and future innovations in technology can provide mutually beneficial solutions to promote industry and protect the environment. Through the course of this session, students will create a large-scale annotated “visual” timeline that maps the complex human relationship to the Kennebec River region.


Session 3 – MMM (120 minutes)

Region & Movement: Taking Stock

Session three introduces the complex social and economic relationship between regions through the movement of one type of cargo in the 19th century: cotton. Though grown elsewhere, Maine maritime communities profited from the movement of this product around the world through shipping and shipbuilding. Students will trace shipping routes of known cotton-carrying Maine-built vessels and interpret the socio-economic implications of this cargo through the artifacts and personal writings of individuals associated with these journeys: a captain’s wife, a Woolwich abolitionist, and a successful shipbuilder.


Session 4 – MMM (120 minutes)

Cultural Interaction: Culture Clashes

The Age of Sail allowed more people than ever before to travel to distant lands and experience new cultures. The stories, impressions, and souvenirs they brought back home defined representations of foreign cultures – sometimes problematically. In this visit, students will examine 19th century sailor souvenirs and journal entries from around the world to uncover the impact of stereotypes and cultural misimpressions. In discussing the cultural implications of seemingly harmless, century-old souvenirs from both Maine and away, students will reflect on cultural biases, including their own, and will reckon with the problems of forming a singular impression of a place. Students will then design “souvenirs” that communicate they want others to know about their hometown.

Maine Maritime Museum