The Island Institute has received $132,000 from the National Science Foundation to implement a one-year pilot project that will involve approximately 20 teachers and 75 elementary students in 12 of Maine’s remote coastal and year-round island communities.

Participants in the Students and Teachers Observing and Recording Meteorological Systems project will use the tools of digital mapping, digital storytelling and graphical analysis to discuss how climate change will affect their communities. Students will interview elders, fishermen and emergency-response personnel to gather data and better understand how shifting weather trends have already impacted their beaches, waters and fisheries.

The schools selected for the pilot project are Peaks, Cliff, Long, Chebeague, Matinicus, Monhegan, Isle au Haut, Islesford, Islesboro, North Haven, Searsport and Deer Isle-Stonington. The STORMS teachers in these schools will gain experience in using meteorological instruments, GIS equipment, and video equipment for conducting interviews with local residents. They will also develop strategies and methods for teaching these skills to their students.

The goal of STORMS is to increase student participation in authentic science, technology, engineering and math experiences while increasing their understanding of weather, storms, and climate. Teachers at the elementary level are often challenged to find ways to engage young students in science, technology, engineering and math learning, and the concept of weather systems is abstract and intangible to young minds unless they can see how temperature, precipitation, or storms affect where they live. The STORMS project will use local weather observations and storms as platforms to get young students excited about science, technology, engineering, math and information technology.

For more information about STORMS, please contact Ruth Kermish-Allen, the Island Institute’s education director, at rallen@islandinstitute.org or 594-9209 ext. 117.