With the entrance of Mrs. Mame Anthony's class from Boothbay Region Elementary School on October 5th, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's (GMRI) LabVenture! program celebrated five years and 50,000 Maine students served. Sponsors, teachers and legislators gathered with staff and board at GMRI to celebrate the milestone.
LabVenture! provides 5th and 6th grade students from every county in Maine with access to GMRI's marine research facility, via the technology-rich learning environment of the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning. Students take on the role of scientists as they conduct hands-on investigations of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem using authentic science tools and techniques.
The science topic, Lobster: Untold Tales, includes activities modeled on research being conducted by marine scientists along the coast of Maine. Students examine a live lobster's adaptations for defense and migration, take videos of lobsters in a live tank to learn about habitat and behavior, view possible prey under a digital microscope to determine about the diet of a larval lobster, and take a virtual lobstering trip to learn about natural resource issues.
LabVenture! is sustained through the generous corporate support of lead partner Poland Spring Water Company, program investors Hannaford, Country Kitchen/Barowsky's Organic Bread, Unum and Central Maine Power, and countless local sponsors. Through their support, GMRI has been able to offer LabVenture! at no cost to schools or families, including transportation on marine-themed buses. The Sam L. Cohen Foundation and the Lunder Foundation have also played a key role in making this incredible opportunity available to Maine children, investing in the development of the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning.
"The LabVenture! program ignites the curiosity, ambition and problem solving potential in our young people, and has been an unforgettable science experience for 50,000 Maine kids," said Don Perkins, GMRI's President. "Without the support of Poland Spring and all of our investors, we wouldn't be able to celebrate this milestone today nor imagine its impact on Maine's future. This is a major step toward realizing our vision of catalyzing Maine's emergence as one of the nation's most science literate states."
"The LabVenture! program is very important to the people of Poland Spring and we're proud to celebrate this important milestone," said Bill Maples, Poland Spring's Northeast Operations Director. "Our company shares GMRI's commitment to increasing science and environmental literacy among Maine children and empowering them with the knowledge and skills to protect Maine's natural resources well into the future."
Doug Caldwell, who retired this year from teaching at the Dora L. Small Elementary School in South Portland, brought his 5th grade students to GMRI every year and integrated the LabVenture! experience with the science curriculum. "Over the past 40 years, I've experienced countless teachable moments," said Caldwell. "However, there are none that surpassed the learning experiences that my students realized here at the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning. Celebrating the 50,000 students who have participated is a celebration for all Maine educational communities."
Watch the TV news story about the event on WCSH6.com.
Read a Press Herald column by Don Perkins that highlights the milestone and emphasizes Maine's potential to lead in science literacy.