STEM Education Thought Leaders Gather in Rockland

By Island Institute | Dec 06, 2012

During the week of November 16-18, thought leaders from around the country in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology (STEM) education met at two separate events hosted in Rockland, Maine by the Island Institute.  These gatherings were just the latest in a series of similar events since the Institute received its first National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for a STEM education project back in 2005.

The events attracted leaders in STEM education fields from Alaska, Ontario, North Carolina, Colorado and New Hampshire, as well as participants from the National Weather Service, the Maine Geological Survey, the Center for School Reform, the Maine Department of Education, the University of Maine, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Downeast Museum Services.  Maine island and coastal teachers, fishermen and researchers came from Chebeague, Long Island, Newcastle and Friendship.

On Friday, a of team of STEM experts received an update from Ruth Kermish-Allen, the Institute’s education director, and Suzanne MacDonald, the organization’s community energy director, on the first full year of Energy for ME, an NSF-funded STEM education project focused on energy efficiency, serving  middle and high-school students, teachers and residents  from 10 island and remote coastal communities.  They also brainstormed suggestions for the future of the project and how its impact could deepen for future participants.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Institute’s education team convened an inter-disciplinary advisory group that included some of Maine’s top research scientists along with teachers and fishermen from island and coastal communities.  This group began developing ideas for the new WeatherBlur project, an NSF-funded online STEM learning community to facilitate discussions between students, fishermen, and scientists about the local effects of climate change.

Beginning with the Communities for Rural Education, Stewardship and Technology project (CREST) in 2005, the Island Institute has won competitive NSF grants of approximately $4 million for STEM education, and an additional $300,000 in funding from agencies and organizations including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative. For more information on these and other education programs at the Island Institute, please visit\education_services or contact Ruth Kermish-Allen at or 207-594-9209 x117

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