Aquaculture me! Hosts Conference to Connect Research, Education, and Industry

Aquaculture me!, an initiative created by Yarmouth educator, 2016 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, and Miliken recipient Morgan Cuthbert, to get classroom teachers connected to the science and industry of aquaculture, held a professional development conference at the University of Maine’s Darling Center near Damariscotta last week.

Maine Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta attended the event on behalf of the Department to give brief remarks and to extend a heartfelt appreciation to Aquaculture me! and educators throughout Maine who work hard to provide Maine students with meaningful educational lessons that incorporate scientific practice about the complex systems that affect our communities and environment through aquaculture education.

The workshop gave participants the opportunity to hear from Maine aquaculture researchers, learn about connecting with the community and the industry, in addition to hearing from Maine educators from Cape Elizabeth, Brunswick, and Yarmouth Schools about successful ways to connect Aquaculture to the classroom.

The conference also gave participants the chance to network with one another and have a round-table discussion about Aquaculture education in Maine.

For more information about Aquaculture me! visit their website.

The conference also gave participants the chance to network with one another and have a round-table discussion about Aquaculture education in Maine.

For more information about Aquaculture me! visit their website.

Maine Researchers, Teacher Begin Scientific Cruise

Submitted by Barbara Powers, Superintendent of Long Island School.

A unique educational opportunity launches on January 24, when a Maine teacher sets sail for the Southern Ocean as part of a Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences team. This partnership with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s “WeatherBlur” education project will bring the experience of an ocean research cruise to students in Maine and beyond.

“Research cruises are tremendously exciting, and sharing that excitement is a great way to interest students in science,” said Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch. “The ocean is endlessly fascinating, and learning about its vital role is essential to understanding life on Earth.”

Marci Train, a teacher at the two-room Long Island School in Casco Bay, will join Balch and several other Bigelow Laboratory scientists in order to engage students throughout the National Science Foundation-funded cruise. The research team aims to investigate how algae in the Southern Ocean may be affecting the future of sea life as far away as the Northern Hemisphere.

Marci Train with students

Throughout the cruise, Train will connect frequently with students in Maine and beyond. She will conduct video tours of the ship to show what a day at sea looks like, post learning materials on the WeatherBlur website, and share photos on social media. She will also assist with scientific operations and help conduct experiments.

“I can’t wait to have a first-hand experience with a scientific research project, and I think it is important for teachers to show their students that you are never too old to learn new information,” Train said. “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and share your own learning experiences with your students.”

Coccolithophores are a common type of algae that help form the base of ocean food webs, and they play a significant role in global chemical and carbon cycles. Balch recently found that they are remarkably scarce in the fertile waters near the equator, and his team aims to learn why during this cruise.

The Southern Ocean and equator are connected by an important ocean layer called “Sub-Antarctic mode water,” which forms at the surface of the Southern Ocean, sinks, and flows to the equator over a 40-year journey. Balch suspects that booming coccolithophore populations in the Southern Ocean are depleting its supply of essential nutrients before Sub-Antarctic mode water flows north, making the water layer sub-optimal for coccolithophore growth by the time it reaches the equator.

While at sea, the team will use satellite imagery to locate eddies rich in coccolithophores, whose chalk shells are so reflective that they can be seen from space. By measuring water properties in these eddies and collecting water to conduct onboard experiments, the researchers hope to uncover how coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean are altering this important source of nutrients before its long journey towards the equator.

“Sub-Antarctic mode water travels far north from where it forms, and it exerts a staggering level of control on much of the global ocean,” Balch said. “If coccolithophores are changing its essential properties, then they could be influencing which species grow in food webs as far away as the equator or even in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The team will use a creative approach to calculate how fast this water layer changes. The ship will follow Sub-Antarctic mode water for more than 1,000 miles on its journey to the Indian Ocean. As they measure the water’s basic properties, they will also collect samples at depth to measure freons, manufactured refrigerants that can be found throughout the environment.

Freons have constantly changed since their invention in the 1950s – a fact that today allows scientists to detect when water was last at the surface and exposed to freons in the atmosphere. Back on shore, a team from the University of Miami will determine which types of freons are present in different parcels of Sub-Antarctic mode water along the ship’s transect.

“Freons are a great timekeeper for the age of water,” Balch said. “We’ll use their time signatures to figure out how long it took a sample of Sub-Antarctic mode water to arrive where we found it, and to understand how quickly the water is changing as it’s moving north.”

The researchers will investigate these questions over 38 days aboard the RV Thomas Thompson. The team will depart from South Africa and return to the island of Mauritius in early March. The Bigelow Laboratory InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts will post updates during the cruise, as will the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This cruise is the latest research topic to be explored by WeatherBlur, an online citizen science community funded by National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project brings together students, teachers, community members, and scientists, who collaborate to ask questions, design scientific investigations, and bring back data and findings to discuss with each other.

Currently, WeatherBlur engages six Maine schools, as well as two schools from Mississippi and one school from Alabama. Train’s outreach from the cruise will be followed by more than 1,300 students and 26 teachers.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for students to see all the different career options onboard a research vessel, including positions in research and on the crew,” Train said. “It’s important that students are exposed to STEM in action, and I can’t wait for them to be immersed in this experience and see how big scientific questions get answered.”

Green Ribbon Schools

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that Maine is joining the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools initiative to inspire and promote effective school sustainability and collaboration. The award highlights sustainability practices undertaken at the school, district, or post-secondary institution level that are cost-saving and health promoting.
The U.S. Department of Education developed three Pillars of a green school:

  1. Reducing environmental impacts, e.g. waste, energy, transportation, etc.
  2. Improving health and wellness of schools, students and staff through consideration of school food, air quality, physical activity, etc.
  3. Offering environmental and sustainability education that is authentic, civically engaging and green career preparing.

More information regarding Green Ribbon Schools can be found on the USDOE website, and Maine’s Green Ribbon Schools application should be submitted to shari.templeton@maine.gov.

MLTI T-shirt Design Competition Accepting Entries Until February 24th, 2020!

The Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) is hosting a T-shirt Design Competition again this year. The theme for the T-shirt design is “Celebrating 200 Years in Maine” or “Maine’s Bicentennial”.

A panel of judges will narrow the submissions down to three designs, and then we will ask Maine students and educators to vote for their top choice as they register for the MLTI Student Conference. The winning T-shirt will be printed for the 1000+ attendees of the 17th Annual MLTI Student Conference, which will be held on Thursday, May 21st, 2020 at the University of Maine in Orono. The three students whose designs become the finalists will be given a free registration to the conference.

Eligibility:

  • Any student who attends an elementary, middle, or high school in Maine during the 2019-2020 school year is eligible to enter the competition may enter the competition.
  • Any student or teacher/chaperone who is registering for the MLTI Student Conference may vote on the final design.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submissions must only have ONE ink color and ONE background color. The inclusion of shading or gradients of colors will lead to disqualification.
  • All submissions must be an original artwork. Any use of any photo, drawing, images or elements created by any other person (other than the MLTI logo) is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification.
    • Please adhere to the guidelines for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards regarding copyright and plagiarism: Even if you have permission to use a work or if the work is in the public domain, the work that you submit to this competition must represent a new, original work. Additionally, changing the medium of an original work is not considered transformative. For example, a painting or drawing of a photograph taken from the Internet or a magazine is not considered original and should not be submitted.
  • Each student may only submit one entry AND the entry must be created by ONE student only.
  • The artwork should be sized to 81/2” x 11”.
  • Students may hand-draw or digitally design their artwork.
  • Digitally designed artwork should be 300 dpi, RGB color, and the fonts must be embedded.
  • Submitted artwork must incorporate the phrase “MLTI Student Conference” and the year “2020” or “’20”.
  • Students must incorporate the MLTI logo into their design: downloadable filesor by copying and pasting this link: http://bit.ly/MLTI_logos.
  • The design should reflect this year’s conference theme and should include some reference to “Celebrating 200 Years in Maine” or “Maine’s Bicentennial”.
  • Students are asked to submit an artist statement (less than 200 words) with their design to help bring clarity to their adherence to the theme.
  • Acceptable file types: PDF or JPEG high resolution.
  • Color: T-shirts are one solid color with one color ink, and the student can suggest the color for each.
  • The t-shirt design must fit on the front of the t-shirt.
  • Signed Release: Each student must sign this release and include it in their submission. If the link above doesn’t work, please copy and paste this link: https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/ltt/conference/tshirt/release

Judging Criteria

  • Guidelines: Work clearly adheres to the submission guidelines (color, size, file type, etc.)
  • Theme: “Celebrating 200 Years in Maine” or “Maine’s Bicentennial”.
  • Principles of Design:Work incorporated the following elements of art: balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity.

Important Dates

  • Monday, November 4th, 2019 – Competition begins
  • Monday, February 24th, 2020 – T-shirt designs due
  • Monday, March 2nd, 2020 – T-shirt voting begins (with registration)
  • Friday, April 10th, 2020 – T-shirt winner announced

Ready to enter the competition? Submit your entry with this form or copy and paste this link: http://bit.ly/MLTI-2020-tshirt-entry

For more information or answers to questions, please contact MLTI.Project@maine.gov

MLTI Bridge Year

The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), has been providing 7th and 8th grade students and teachers access to, and support for, educational technology since 2002. While the goal has remained constant – provide State support for access to technology-enhanced education experiences for all students – the program has changed in many ways and will continue to grow and evolve in the future. The Department remains committed to this goal.  

As many school administrative units (SAUs) are aware, the final contracts for the existing MLTI program are set to expire on June 30, 2020. During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Department has designed a “bridge year,” to provide support for devices, infrastructure, and professional learning while we continue to work with stakeholders to design what is the next phase of the MLTI program. With the support of the 129th legislature, the Department has designed the bridge year to mitigate and minimize disruption to SAUs. The details of the bridge year are the following: 

  • The Department will purchase all of the MLTI devices at the end of the lease. 
  • The Department will transfer ownership to SAUs in cohort 4 (lease begun in 2016) for 7th & 8th grade and staff devices in July 2020. JAMF licenses on these devices will continue at no charge to SAUs through June 30, 2021. Systems Engineering will continue to support the WiFi infrastructure of 7th and 8th grade classrooms during the bridge year. 
  • SAUs who are currently leasing additional devices (elementary or high school student and staff devices) from the Department will have the option to buy out their devices from the Department at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop in July 2020. JAMF licenses will be available on these devices for the cost of $6/ iOS device and $12/MacOS.
  • No new grants will be awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year. 
  • The Department will provide statewide and regional professional learning,  
  • The Department will host the MLTI student conference in May 2021.  

Over the past several months, the Department has hosted Think Tank conversations regionally around the state to reflect on the past 17 years of the MLTI program and envision innovative ideas about the possibilities for the next 20 years of the program. We will continue to use the additional time afforded by the “bridge year” to meet with stakeholders throughout the state. Discussions will include topics such as portable computer devices, device management and deployment, software, wireless networking, technical support, and professional development, as well as financial models to support these efforts. The Department will also convene a workgroup to synthesize this information and help to create a plan for the state. 

Below is the estimated timeline for MLTI through 2021. 

  • June 2019 – August 2020: The Department holds meetings with stakeholders regarding the future of MLTI (post SY 2020-2021) and convenes a workgroup to develop a State plan 
  • July 2020 – June 30, 2021: Bridge Year 
  • October 2020: The Department announces plan for MLTI post SY 2020-2021 (including the release of any necessary RFPs) 
  • July 2021: launch of MLTI 2.0 

For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, contact Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov, 207-624-6642.