“What marine invertebrate do you want to be and why?” By answering that question, public and private high school and home-schooled juniors throughout Maine can apply for the Keller BLOOM Program at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.

The program offers students an unforgettable week of hands-on laboratory and field research led by scientists from the laboratory. This is the 21st year of the program, which brings 16 high school juniors together each spring to spend a week engaged in field sampling and data collection in a variety of marine environments.

BLOOM, which stands for Bigelow Laboratory Orders of Magnitude, includes a day-long research cruise, as well as data analysis using the laboratory’s state-of-the-art instrumentation. Students and program staff also have ample time to talk about science and public policy, scientific ethics, and career directions. Over the years, many BLOOM graduates have gone on to successful careers in a diversity of sciences.

“Participants enhance their science skills and are introduced to a variety of exciting career options in marine science through a combination of hands-on research, interactions with scientists, and immersion in a laboratory environment,” said Rebecca Fowler, education coordinator at Bigelow Laboratory, in a news release.

This year’s program is scheduled for May 16 to May 20. The application deadline is April 2. Instructions, application materials and more information are available at bigelow.org/education/keller-bloom.

Established in 1974, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a center for global ocean research. An independent, nonprofit research institution, the laboratory is supported by federal research grants and private funds. The laboratory’s research focus ranges from microbial oceanography — examining biological productivity in the world’s oceans at the molecular level — to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. These programs have taken Bigelow scientists around the world to every ocean and the polar seas.