Spring Learning Theme: Vernal Pools

2023 Vernal Pool-ooza!

Get excited for a magical sign of spring: vernal pools! Brimming with life and essential to forest ecosystems, these extraordinary places provide a rich context for learning about ecosystems, climate change, seasons, and developing a connection to nature. This spring we are highlighting a variety of pathways for youth to engage with vernal pools, in schools, in communities, and beyond and we are connecting the adults in these spaces with each other and resources to support learning. Photo credit: Brenna Crothers.

Project Goals:

  • Build background knowledge related to vernal pools and climate change.
  • Experience learning around vernal pools that can be applied in formal and informal learning environments.
  • Gather resources from NASA to support data and climate learning.
  • Build comfort with gathering, contributing, analyzing, and sharing data.
  • Connect with practitioners and learning experience designers in your area and across the region supporting learning around vernal pools in and out of school.
  • For youth to develop STEM practices, concepts, and agency through place-based learning experiences in connection with other youth, community members, and professional scientists.

'Tis the season

In the early spring, vernal pools brim with life. They provide food for birds, mammals, reptiles, and other amphibians spring through fall. Hearing the sounds of a vernal pool as you wander the woods can be a life changing moment. Climate change is affecting spring temperatures and patterns of precipitation, and the impact on vernal pools is not well understood.

This spring we’re working to bring youth and educators together through the magic of vernal pools to help us understand how the species that rely on these pools are responding to climate change. Learn about and experience different ways this phenomenon can show up in learning experiences for youth no matter what learning context they are in.

Through our network of organizations, practitioners, and learning experience designers, we offer a mixture of virtual and in person experiences to meet you where you are in your journey of learning about and exploring all that vernal pools have to offer.

Check back often for updates!

We have compiled a list of opportunities that you can pick and choose from but the list will be continually updated. You can take as little or as much as you wish, mix and match, it is a buffet, a Vernal Pool-ooza!

Educator information sessions

Each virtual session below will be offered at two different times to accommodate a range of schedules and recordings will be shared afterwards:

  • Vernal Pool Background Building: A 90 minute virtual session around building background knowledge, discussing connections to climate science, and going through example activities to support youth learning around vernal pools.
  • Vernal Pool Community Science Challenge Info Session: Join us on March 21st, from 11:30–12:30 p.m. or from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Through community science, youth can build understanding of vernal pool ecosystems while contributing to ongoing vernal pool research efforts. Join this session for information for resources to support learning through community science, confidence in supporting students in carrying out the project protocols, excitement for community science, and connections to a network of educators and project staff to support you.
  • Scientific Observation, Writing, and Vernal Pools: Join us on April 6th to learn about ways to support students in looking closely and communicating their vernal pool observations. Observations can be submitted for publication in Findings from the Field, a middle school science journal. Learn more and register here.

Virtual events for youth

  • Scientist To Go: On May 2nd, connect youth with environmental scientist and ecologist Greg LeClair as he discusses his wildlife research adventures from endangered turtles to mass salamander movement in vernal pools. Following a 20 minute presentation, youth will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their own experiences.
  • Vernal Pool Community Science Challenge: On April 24th, join hundreds of students and educators from across the northeast as we collect and contribute data on impacts of climate change on key vernal pool species. This challenge includes a virtual information session for educators, opportunities for educators to practice protocols in a local(ish) vernal pool, and opportunities for youth to connect to the lead project scientists before and after contributing data.
  • POSTPONED The Secret Pool with Kim Ridley: virtual read-aloud and author talk: Join us on (TBD) to experience the magic of vernal pools with the author of the award-winning children's book, The Secret Pool. Join this virtual read aloud for children and families from your local library, classroom, or from home.

Local and Statewide Events


Aroostook County

Hancock County and Midcoast Maine

Southern Maine

Washington County

  • Spring 2023 Vernal Pool Community Science Challenge: Join us on May 4th, 4:30–6:30 pm at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Edmunds Division for this in-person vernal pool experience for educators. The event is hosted by the Washington County Connected Learning Ecosystem.
  • 4-H SPecial INterest (SPIN) Club: Every Monday from April 24th to May 22nd at 2:30 pm, youth will explore local vernal pools and engage in experiential activities.
  • May Storytrail, The Secret Pool: Join the Downeast Coastal Conservancy May 1st – May 31st for another year of the The Secret Pool”by Kimberly Ridley on their storytrail at Middle River Park. The Secret Pool introduces young readers to the wonders right underfoot as the voice of a vernal pool shares its secrets through the seasons, and sidebars provide fun facts on its inhabitants and the crucial role these small, often overlooked wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment.
  • Washington County Big Night: Join the Washington County location Big Night the weekends of April 15th and April 22nd (tentatively).
    • Email Cathy at Downeast Coastal Conservancy for more information.
  • Vernal Pool Exploration Evening with Downeast Lakes Land Trust: On April 28th from 6:00–8:00 pm, join the Downeast Lakes Land Trust to explore vernal pools and learn how to tell the difference between different egg masses and look for amphibians and invertebrates.
  • Vernal Pool Walk at the Vining Lake Community Preserve in Cooper: On April 30th, join the Downeast Coastal Conservancy as they host a vernal pool walk for the general community.
    • Email Cathy at Downeast Coastal Conservancy for more information.

Western Maine

The Vernal Pool Spring Learning Theme is a product of Learning Ecosystems Northeast (LENE), a NASA funded collaborative focused on building partnerships and pathways that provide youth with opportunities to engage in locally relevant climate connected learning experiences. Many in person events are being co-hosted by Connected Learning Ecosystems (CLE) that are part of the LENE network.

This is a logo for Learning Ecosystems Northeast that has blue and green, with black letters.

Molly Auclair

Contact Molly if you have any questions about Connected Learning Ecosystems.

Molly Auclair
Molly Auclair Connected Learning Ecosystem Specialist (207) 228-1649 [email protected]

Meggie Harvey

Contact Meggie if you have any questions about vernal pool community science challenges.

Meggie Harvey
Meggie Harvey Program Manager, Community Science in Education (207) 228-1666 [email protected]

Project Sponsor

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under grant number NNX16AB94A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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