Western ME teacher "blog"

Use this forum thread as your blog. When you are getting ready to try out a new authentic science investigation, share your plans/ideas/questions here. Use this to stay connected with one another as a community.


If you are looking for some science articles that your students can read, this site is great! I just perused some of the ecology related options, but you can search for just middle school reading level articles too. Check it out - http://www.sciencejournalforkids.org/

Water Education Grants of $200-$500 can support your spring curriculum and field trips!

Maine’s largest water utility, the Portland Water District, offers grants to support water education. Educators within the Sebago Lake Watershed and PWD service area are eligible to apply – including 11 service area towns in the greater Portland area and 24 watershed towns surrounding/northwest of Sebago Lake (as far north as Bethel!).

Grant funds may be used to purchase materials and services related to water education. Examples include books, curriculum, water quality testing materials (like test kits and waders), field trip transportation fees, and water conservation or protection supplies like plants and rain barrels.

Individuals can receive a maximum of $200 while a collaborative group of three or more educators can receive up to $500.

It is our goal to make these funds easily accessible to busy educators! Both the application process and reporting requirements are straightforward.

FMI visit https://www.pwd.org/water-education-grants

This is a quick lesson with a testable question flowchart from NSTA.

Authentic science investigation in the classroom: Tools for creating original testable questions and
graphical hypotheses


This would have been perfect for the 5th grade spider plant experiments. I also found a resource that does use some plant examples and goes into dependentversus dependent variables. Will try to dig out for tomorrow.

This post from kezarslc ended up in another RTC's blog (which was awesome because that group was excited for the share). I wanted to make sure that you all saw it too!


Hi Everyone,

At our last virtual meeting, I shared some lessons I did around this question. My resource is from NSTA Science Scope, and I tweaked it a bit.
Let's Talk Science: Seeding Argumentation About Cells and Growth
Journal Article
Summer 2012 65 by Deena Gould

I'm never sure if my links will work, but I'll give it a go:

#1 Popcorn - is it alive? continuum and discussion questions after pairing up with others of varying opinions:

#2 Supports for students to develop investigations:

Hi all,

Just wanted to share this news release about emerald ash borer. The quarantine zone in Quebec got larger and runs along the Maine border. You and your students can be critical citizen scientists as Maine Forest Service looks to stem the spread of this forest pest as early as possible in Maine.



"We invite you to participate! For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 16-19, 2018, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!"


Maine's Project Learning Tree is having a gathering on February 2 & 3 at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro. You'll receive 12 contact hours for attending. Here are some details about the 2-days:

Learn about:

· New partnership between National PLT and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program.

· New Early Childhood through Middle School instructional models, including e-units and on-line courses.

· New workshop delivery methods and addressing on-line learning

· Opportunity to create supplemental Maine facts for generic e-units

· Updates: Forest Inventory Growth (FIG) website.

· New Maine graduation requirements and standards based connections to PLT.

There will be presentations by Jackie Stallard, National PLT; Pat Sirois, MESFI; Kevin Doran, Maine Forest Service; Tim Surrette, UMaine at Augusta; Shari Templeton, Department of Education; Olivia Griset, MEEA President.

Time: Registration at 1:45 p.m. Program begins at 2:30 on February 2. We’ll conclude no later than 4:00 p.m. on February 3, 2018

Cost: $25 Registration fee includes one overnight, 12 contact hours, dinner on Friday plus breakfast and lunch on Saturday. All made possible with a grant from National Project Learning Tree

Limited space so be sure to sign up today or no later than January 24, 2018.

Download the registration at: http://www.mainetreefoundation.org/programs/pltworkshopdates.html

I just read an article in Physics Today 71, 38 (2018);
Introductory physics labs: WE CAN DO BETTER.

This was mostly about college level courses, but it seems that it could apply to any science course. The authors found that labs do not enhance student learning of the content. Labs are more effective in teaching experimental practices. It also pointed out that if students are given a lab that is all set up so that all they need to do is follow the directions and take measurements, then they do not get much out of it. They are more likely to learn how to think like a scientist and how to do all of the processes of scientific experimentation if they are given a problem to solve and they have to run tests and look at their own results to figure out if the tests are working and what changes they need to make. This takes more time than cookbook labs, but interviewed students were not as frustrated when they did not get expected results ( as they would be from a cookbook lab) and could look at their work and make adjustments to their tests or ideas.

I think middle school students would be more excited about a science class where they were in charge of solving a problem themselves. Now the trick is to find the balance between getting them the content they need and the time to run authentic science experiments.

Very cool findings - http://bit.ly/2EPFDOM

If you are interested in some really amazing climate visualizations, check out the Climate Reanalyzer from UMaine's Climate Change Institute - http://cci-reanalyzer.org/

Great meeting tonight (thanks Tonya!).

As you all are getting your equipment lists together, keep these essential elements in mind as you explain how the items you need will help your students.

1. Issue Definition
-A focused, driving question (locally relevant, environmental, needs background research and investigation, reflection of public values and perception related to issue)
2. Outdoor Field Experiences
-One or more, on or off school grounds, ideally with kids involved in planning of the inquiry
3. Synthesis and Conclusions
-Students identify, synthesize, apply evidence from investigation to draw conclusions and make claims about their issue
-Students communicate conclusions to internal (school) and external (community) audiences
4. Action Projects
-Implement solutions based on conclusions
-Assess how solution addressed issue

Keep on doing the great work you all are doing. It is inspiring to hear your updates.

A great resource posted by a seasoned VS educator - http://vitalsignsme.org/fieldwork-management-strategies-supporting-docum...

*Don't forget to check out the blog post too - http://vitalsignsme.org/blog/fieldwork-management-strategies-and-teacher...

From the link below, you can download the BiomeViewer. Great resource for kids to explore and compare biomes around the world. It includes climate and species information.


Here are some helpful links related to our conversation last night. If anyone has a good link for the Museum of Science matter activities, please reply here and add. Thanks!

o Understanding Sampling activity (the bean game): http://vitalsignsme.org/random-sampling-activity
o Engineering is Elementary (resources around physical, life, and earth science): https://www.eie.org/
o Sampling method video (made by VS students): http://vitalsignsme.org/data-collection-and-random-sampling
o NOAA teacher PD opportunity (October 21st): http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/edu/development/flyers/NEAQ_Oct21_17.pdf
o Findings from the Field (VS middle school science journal): http://vitalsignsme.org/findings-field-middle-school-journal-science-res...

Come to find out the Engineering Everywhere Curriculum was developed by the Museum of Science.

I used this free lesson from NSTA: Earth Hounds: Dr. Xargle's Book of Earth Hounds and Seven Blind Mice with my students this past week. It was a great activity to teach my students the differences between observations and inferences. I didn't have the book Dr. Xargle's Book of Earth Hounds, so I used sorting cards after giving my students a quick lesson. The next day, I had my students do this activity. They loved it.



??way to set up students to better develop their own questions???

This is such a great article! Well worth the read. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

water quality project looks like a quick hit to hook students!

Last year when I did a VS investigation with my students, I use the peer review flow chart. I added a back page for the student groups to do a self-reflection of their own work after receiving bak the peer review form. Take a look and see if it's something you might want to use. It's a pages document that I have in my Google Drive. I made a link, but I'm not sure if it will work. Please let me know :)


It doesn't seem to be working for some people. Try uploading the file to the shared curriculum bank, here - http://vitalsignsme.org/share-curriculum-resources


Environmentalists are working to remove and stop the spreading of an estimated half an acre of milfoil on Long Lake!

It's amazing with the years of diligence by LEA and VLMP that such a large patch went unnoticed it then again Long Lake is huge. I shudder to think if it can get that large on such a big, deep lake so fast what it would do to my pond, Saturday Pond if it ever showed up. It's a very shallow small pond. I used to help Pixie Williams, a diehard botanist who did just about every body of water around Otisfield, with the plant patrols but that was eons ago when my knees could handle getting in and out of a kayak. I took her into some of the scuzziest locales that others hadn't dared to go.

Here is the link to the Boom! Quiz, Quiz, Trade lesson - http://vitalsignsme.org/boom-quiz-quiz-trade

Great idea for review/ introductions- Thank you

Thanks for posting this.

And here are the two links you all were interested in:

Why Nothing Matters (the Not Found video) - http://vitalsignsme.org/why-nothing-matters

VLMP Invasive Aquatic Plant Resources - http://www.mainevlmp.org/volunteer-info/invasive-plant-monitors/ipp-reso...

3 Seconds- A powerful video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQYiRwNd7ug

The Maine Geographic Alliance has giant maps from National Geographic and great lessons to go along with them. The maps can be borrowed from the alliance. They are great resources and the kids love them.

Here is a list of Digital Science Projects/ Resources.

FrogWatch USA

Celebrate Urban Birds

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

Seafloor Explorer


Nature’s Notebook

Project Feeder Watch

Great to have in my classroom perhaps to use as a puzzle to put together. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you for the link to the maps.

Love all these resources today! Thank you!

Good article about how to get students to wonder out loud and create questions for investigations.