Institutes & events

Professional Development opportunities

In-person Institutes:

Scientific Inquiry and Writing
Thursday, February 7, 2019 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, ME

Join the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Vital Signs team and other Maine 5th through 8th grade teachers as we share practices that support students in writing about authentic science inquiry. We are working together to grow Findings from the Field, a journal of original environmental and ecological research for and by Maine’s middle school students. In this full-day teacher institute, we model different pathways for scientific inquiry that incorporate writing and peer review throughout. Participants will walk away with a full suite of resources to support participation in Findings. Bring a friend! Interdisciplinary teams encouraged. Register here.

Benefits include:

  • Mileage and substitute reimbursement
  • Contact hours
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Resources to support scientific inquiry and writing
  • Connections with peers from across the state

Reach out to Meggie at with questions.

Regional Teacher Communities:

Are you a 5th – 8th grade teacher who wants to connect with a regional community of STEM educators learning from one another and working to bring more and deeper authentic STEM investigations into their classrooms? Join a Regional Teacher Community (RTC)!

  • Western Maine (Franklin and Oxford counties)
  • Midcoast Maine (Waldo, Knox, and Lincoln counties)
  • Washington County
  • Hancock County

To register to join one of the 4 RTCs, fill out this FORM. If you have any questions at all, email Molly Auclair at for more details. If you are interested in being in an RTC, but aren’t in one of our current regions, we would love to hear from you.

Educator Institutes

We’re always interested in meeting Maine educators who want to transform how students learn science.

Each year we invite more educators to join the 100+ already contributing to Vital Signs’ statewide effort to engage, challenge, and mobilize students to contribute to an authentic science research effort. Institutes, workshops, and webinars happen throughout the year.

Vital Signs has truly transformed my teaching... Vital Signs has given meaning to field work. Data collected by students is important and actually used. Feedback from real scientists who use the data is given to students. No better way to incorporate NGSS in my opinion.
Teacher 2015

Institutes offer educators firsthand experience with all components of the Vital Signs program from framing issues and research questions to data collection, peer review, data analysis, reflection, and final project creation. Each day offers a chance to work collaboratively with fellow educators from around the state, sharing time, energy, and ideas. Educators will meet scientists, citizen scientists, and other educators active in the Vital Signs community, and will be prepared for active participation themselves. Institutes allow time to explore, do, play, reflect, and create a personalized action plan that guides implementation.


  • Connect your students with the scientific community
  • Experience inquiry and other essential elements of scientific practice
  • Become familiar with Vital Signs technology, standards-aligned curriculum, and community resources
  • Do authentic field work in freshwater and coastal systems
  • Understand how to incorporate Vital Signs into your current curriculum or program
  • Collaborate and network with similarly-inspired teachers throughout Maine, including 100 already participating in and advising Vital Signs.

Perks (always subject to change)

It's incredible to see and hear from the scientists who are involved in this project we are undertaking. I love their passion and enthusiasm for science and inquiry!
Teacher Institute 2009

  • Field equipment to borrow while you’re active with VS
  • Ongoing support from the VS team and community of educators
  • Contact Hours
  • Stipend
  • Lodging for those from away
  • Mileage for those traveling

An Institute in your future?

If you sense an Institute in your future, tell us about yourself and we’ll send you Institute announcements direct from us to your inbox. Send us:

  • Your name
  • Your email
  • Your school or organization
  • The grade(s) and subject(s) you teach
  • A short and sweet statement about why you’re interested and how you think your students might benefit

See you soon!