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Science is a ball--a snowball, that is--for 8th graders at Holbrook School in Holden, Me.

As part of a science experiment to design insulating packaging, students at the public middle school last month packed a snowball in a cardboard box lined with insulation, sawdust, and dry ice. Then they sent it across the country by overnight mail to Redwood Intermediate School in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

After its coast-to-coast journey, the snowball lost just one gram between Maine and California.

The students in California repackaged the snow and sent it back to Maine in the form of a snow cone.

The snow lost just three more grams along the way.

"It was a weird idea. But I tried it, and it worked out," said David Palmer, the Holbrook School science teacher whose class started the frozen exchange.

Having found a way to ship snow more or less intact, Mr. Palmer's class hopes to have the same success with some delicate painted eggshells it sent this month to China, Hawaii, and California.

"We're not keeping our noses stuck in a textbook all the time," Mr. Palmer said.

Euphoria. Changed perceptions. A deep sense of being at one with all of nature. Notions of having found an escape from the real world.

The effects of a few hours of fishing can be profound.

At least that's the line cast about by the Future Fisherman Foundation, the educational arm of the American Sportsfishing Association.

Schools in hundreds of districts are using the group's anti-substance-abuse curriculum, "Hooked on Fishing--Not on Drugs."

The organizers of the program hope it will net new generations of angling enthusiasts. The foundation, based in Barrington, Ill., is supported by tackle manufacturers.

The program pledges to offer ways to reach out to children and show them a lifelong way of having fun without drugs and alcohol.

The young anglers who take part in the curriculum also learn about the environment and, if they're really lucky, can feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with reeling in a big fish or putting dinner in the pan.

--Robert C. Johnston & Peter Schmidt

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