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Current Program

Vital Signs

Program Website and Blog

Visit the Vital Signs community website

See what we're up to on our program blog

Professional Development

Learn about upcoming Vital Signs Teacher Institutes

Student Research Experience

Students use the scientific process to investigate local habitats for invasive species:

  • Observations are made in the field
  • Research questions are selected
  • Hypotheses drive field investigations
  • Software and authentic tools guide data collection
  • Database, interactive maps & graphs assist analysis
  • Products are shared with online community of students, teachers, scientists
Program Impacts

"The magnitude of this involvement promises to build a heightened level of school-age awareness and a meaningful body of scientific knowledge that is essential for biologists and resource managers committed to addressing invasive species issues." - Commissioner David Littell, Maine Department of Environmental Protection

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A dynamic community of practice

Vital Signs is a dynamic community of students, educators, professional scientists, and citizen scientists working together to collect, analyze, and share critical environmental information about freshwater, coastal, and upland habitats across Maine. We are learners, researchers, observers, collectors, thinkers, doers, creators, and communicators of all shapes and sizes motivated to address the problem of invasive species in Maine.

A next-generation science learning environment

Vital Signs is an authentic science education program for Maine middle school students. Students learn science by being scientists, participating directly in a real environmental research effort alongside top scientists, passionate citizens, and a statewide network of their peers.

Maine's unique one-to-one statewide computing network connects all 7th and 8th grade teachers and students to the Vital Signs community. Students use inquiry, peer review, and scientific tools to investigate a genuine and compelling research question. Social networking tools facilitate a fluid exchange of knowledge between novice and expert in a way that transforms each student's relationship with science from distant spectator to thoughtful participant.

Furthermore Vital Signs encourages and supports teachers as they incorporate into their pedagogy inquiry-based methodologies that foster critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, communication, and playful collaboration.

A statewide research and stewardship effort

Vital Signs is a statewide effort to address invasive species. Our collective research focus is on locating invasive species and documenting the native species and habitats vulnerable to invasions:

  • Where are the invasive species in Maine? Where aren't they?
  • What native species and habitats do they threaten?
  • What can we do?

Invasive species threaten Maine's native species and natural resources. Stewarding 32,000 miles of rivers and streams, 6,000 lakes and ponds, 5,000 miles of coastline, and 17 million acres of forest is a daunting challenge. But Maine is poised for action with its high-speed network of 32,000 middle school students, its forward-thinking teachers, its passionate citizen scientist community, and its motivated invasive species scientists.

Together we will use scientific tools and habits of mind to look for native and invasive species in local habitats. We will share what we find and do not find with the Vital Signs community online. We will contribute to a greater understanding of and connection to our shared environment.