Maine Teacher Reflects on Vital Signs Experience

Tidings | May 9, 2016

Messalonskee Middle School teacher Amanda Ripa stands in a black shirt with a blue lanyard on in front of a wall plastered with her student's work on invasive species.
Messalonskee Middle School teacher Amanda Ripa.

Messalonskee Middle School teacher Amanda Ripa recently led an invasive species investigation with her students. Below, she reflects on her experience using Vital Signs — GMRI’s citizen science education program — in her classroom.

"Using Vital Signs enhanced this investigation tremendously. This experience allowed my students to make observations and answer an authentic question in their own backyard. Together, we investigated a local population of crayfish to determine whether or not they were invasive.

Through Vital Signs, we worked directly with Dr. Karen Wilson, a professor and crayfish expert from the University of Southern Maine. This opportunity to share our research in the scientific community gave our students exposure and confidence as young scientists!

Throughout the project, I watched my students become more engaged as they began to understand the importance of biodiversity to the ecosystem. They also improved their science writing, using new vocabulary to cite evidence supporting their claims. Students with artistic skills put their talents on display by drawing their observations.

This authentic, interdisciplinary learning experience allowed my students to participate as citizen scientists in the Maine learning community!"