Maine Educators Engage with Ocean Science


Ten Maine educators engaged in hands-on professional development this July as part of Bigelow Laboratory’s BLOOM Educators Program, now in its seventh year. This free program provides educators with research training and tools in order to better equip them to teach ocean science in their classrooms.

“We provide educators with the same tools we use here at Bigelow Laboratory, just on a smaller scale,” said Research Scientist Nicole Poulton, who co-directs the program with Senior Research Scientist David Fields. “Through this immersive experience with aquatic science, they learn to use research equipment to educate and inspire their students in the classroom and in the field.”

The program largely follows the outline of the Keller BLOOM Program for high school students. Participants receive a take-home toolkit of data collection instruments that can be used to study any body of water. Through the course, they learn the fundamentals of ocean science and explore how to share them in locally and globally relevant contexts.

The educators also get a chance to collect their own water samples and oceangraphic data on a research cruise on the Damariscotta River. Back on land, they learn how to use microscopes to identify plankton in their samples and how to analyze the data they collected.

“I didn’t really know what I was looking for when I decided to take part in this program,” said Athena Sanders, a science teacher at T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School in Dixfield, Maine. “What I’ve learned here about the impacts of science and the tools of oceanography has been fantastic and given me more ways to provide my students with opportunities to act like scientists in the classroom.”

And that, largely, is the goal of the BLOOM Educators program: providing educators with new and better ways to give their students meaningful science experiences. By equipping teachers, Bigelow Laboratory scientists amplify their reach, giving thousands of Maine students the opportunity to experience science, and the ocean, in new ways.