About Vital Signs

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A dynamic community of practice

Anyone with an interest in learning and contributing to scientific research is invited to join the Vital Signs community. We are a mix of students, educators, professional scientists, and citizen scientists from across Maine (now spilling into southern New England and New York). We're working together to collect, analyze, and share critical environmental information about freshwater, coastal, and upland habitats, and to create authentic learning environments for our next generation of scientists and active, aware citizens. Create an account (top of the page!) and get started!


A next-generation learning environment

Vital Signs is an authentic science education experience 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 one-to-one statewide computing network connects all teachers and students 7th and 8th grade 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 the students’ relationship with science from distant spectator to thoughtful participant.

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


A statewide research 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 are using scientific tools and habits of mind to look for native and invasive species in local habitats. We are sharing what we find and do not find online. We are contributing to a greater understanding of and connection to our shared environment.