The Acadia Learning program brings teachers, students, and working scientists together to investigate questions that are relevant to the health of National Parks. Research projects have focused on authentic, relevant, and useful science. Students and teachers work with scientists to conduct research in their own communities but know that their work contributes to understanding of problems that are of interest to the parks.
For example, mercury research initiated by Acadia Learning contributed to formation of what is now a nation-wide initiative with students collecting dragonfly nymphs to sample for mercury in over 40 National Park units. Since Acadia Learning’s beginnings in 2007 we have worked with more than 110 teachers and have engaged more than 3000 students in collecting data, analyzing and making sense of it, and presenting their findings. Students are currently investigating effects of climate change on snowpack, hydrology, and aquatic habitats.
“One of the biggest things that I felt happy about, that the students got out of the project was just a sense of ‘I can do this.’ That sense of accomplishment […] was a huge thing for them and it came from realizing they could do science.”
The Acadia Learning project currently is focused on snowpack. This project, The Future of Four Seasons in Maine: a Scientist-Teacher-Student Partnership to investigate climate change in seasonally snow-covered watersheds, is funded by a grant to the University of Maine and Schoodic Institute from NOAA’s B-WET program.
Students and teachers are partnered with scientists to learn more about the snow system, and to create a network of snow monitoring sites that can help answer questions about the future of Maine’s snowpack, all across the state. Teacher and student partners are collecting data on:
- The onset of snowpack
- Snowpack depths throughout the winter
- New snow amounts
- Snow melt
Acadia Learning is a collaboration by the Schoodic Institute and the University of Maine. It has been supported with funds from the Maine Department of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and private donors.
More detailed information about the Acadia Learning Partnership is currently available at http://participatoryscience.org/.