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GMRI Education Programs

GMRI's Education Programs and Resources

Explore GMRI's educational approach, programs, and resources.

VS kids with a bucket on a beach
Students Participate in Vital Signs

Vital Signs In the News

Creative Commons blog 9/4/09

Middle School of the Kennebunks: Coast Star 9/18/08 kennebunk_CS.doc

Middle School of the Kennebunks: Journal Tribune 9/15/08 kennebunk_JT.doc

Creative Commons blog 7/23/08

Sanford Junior High School: Sanford News 11/6/08 sanford.doc

Tidings 02/06: Monitoring Invasive Species

Tidings 11/06: Leveraging the Laptop Initiative

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Vital Signs is a field-based science education program that builds on the knowledge and skills that students are introduced to as 5th or 6th graders during LabVenture!

Vital Signs links 7th and 8th grade students and scientists in the rigorous collection and analysis of essential environmental data across freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Innovative technology, relevant content, and critical partnerships create an authentic science learning experience for students, a distributed data gathering network for scientists, and a statewide community of teachers, students, and scientists collaborating to learn about and steward the Gulf of Maine watershed.

Our vision is for students and scientists to be partners in a collaborative, service-learning effort to study local aquatic environments. Vital Signs promises to:

  • Provide students an authentic science experience that enhances learning, empowers students as citizen scientists, and raises aspirations for science careers;
  • Collect data on a comprehensive, frequent basis to assist scientists and resource managers in monitoring the health of aquatic ecosystems statewide; and
  • Build a replicable open source technology system that facilitates citizen participation in environmental research and improves public access to information on human and natural communities.

The Vital Signs education experience is carefully designed to give students an opportunity to learn science as though they are real scientists. Students use the same scientific process, protocols, field equipment, and technology tools that scientists use to study ecosystems and to share their findings. This authentic research-based approach to science education challenges students to think critically about their local ecosystems, offer creative solutions to real environmental issues, and develop essential communication skills.

Current Program

Invasive species threaten Maine's native species and natural resources. This daunting environmental challenge provides a rallying point for todays digital learners. Vital Signs leverages Maine's laptop program to enable thousands of middle school students to participate in a statewide effort to find invasive species, and to document those native species and habitats most vulnerable to future invasions. Visit the Vital Signs website.


Vital Signs intends to be flexible and responsive to scientific and educational need. In past years, the program has focused on water quality monitoring in Maine and riparian habitat monitoring in the border region between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Currently the program addresses invasive species monitoring in the Gulf of Maine watershed. In subsequent years, the program will address additional issues of statewide, regional, and global concern.

Contact Us

There are many ways to contact Vital Signs: