25 years of learning science with scientists


Sixteen high school students from across Maine will begin a weeklong residential program at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay on Sunday, May 18. The high school juniors will work side-by-side with marine scientists to learn about ocean issues and see what it is like to have a career as a research scientist.

This cohort marks the 25th annual [140]Keller BLOOM (Bigelow Laboratory Orders Of Magnitude) Program, where students work with scientist mentors, collecting samples, conducting laboratory experiments, analyzing data, and presenting their scientific findings. Parents and elected officials are invited to attend this year's presentation at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 22 at the Laboratory.

The Keller BLOOM program began in 1989 when two young scientists (Drs. Maureen Keller and Clarice Yentsch) and a Bigelow Laboratory Trustee (Jim McLoughlin) conceived of the idea of bringing a group of regular students to the Laboratory to help them understand the ocean that is so central to life in Maine. They imagined a program that would give the students a chance to work side by side with some of the nation's top scientists, hauling nets, puzzling through microscopes, making sense of the ocean's many mysteries. To make it equally available to all, they decided to select one student from each of Maine's counties to participate, and to cover all the costs, even food and accommodation. The program has been run in this way for the past 25 years, and 400 Maine high school students have participated.

The name of the program originally was simply BLOOM but it was renamed to honor Maureen Keller who died in 1999.

"Keller BLOOM is one great way for Maine's youth to learn science while having a phenomenal experience." says Dr. Thomas E. Keller, Co-Director, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and MMSA's STEM Guides project, Executive Director, Maine STEM Council. "For many of the 400 Maine high school students who attend this unique, annual event, it has been a life-altering experience." (Keller's deceased wife helped launch the program.)

The 2014 BLOOM Class includes Alexi Cote, Madawaska High School; Ian Davis, Islesboro Central School; Patrick Davis, John Bapst Memorial High School; Derek Dubay, Skowhegan Area High School; Grace Fan, Falmouth High School; Tess Fields, Lincoln Academy; Kelsey Hutchins, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School; Sally Jarmusz, Seton Home Study School (Homeschooled); Zachary Johnson, Foxcroft Academy; Nerissa Larrabee, Caribou High School; Emily Miller, Leavitt Area High School; Alexander Organ, Lincoln Academy; Sienna Roberge, Kennebunk High School; Melissa Seib, Gould Academy; Harriett Train, Cheverus High School; and Hannah Welborn, Wiscasset High School.

An independent assessment of the long-running program in 2011 showed that 100% of all BLOOM students subsequently attend college, 70% major in science or mathematics, and half go on to pursue science careers.