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LabVenture Experience

As part of our LabVenture experience, 5th and 6th graders from all corners of Maine take on the role of scientists and conduct their own hands-on research in the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning, our state-of-the-art learning laboratory.

Each year, GMRI transports roughly 10,000 Maine middle schoolers to our lab, free of charge, for a day of interactive science learning. We also extend this experience back into the classroom by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum resources for Maine teachers.

LabVenture exposes young Mainers to authentic science tools and methods of inquiry that are far beyond the reach of most Maine classrooms. Students work in teams to gather evidence about the Gulf of Maine through hands-on and high-tech research.

The students use real NASA satellite data, as well as local fishery data, to explore many of the same questions about the Gulf of Maine that professional research scientists at GMRI are tackling. They’ll do so in a fully renovated Cohen Center for Interactive Learning — a one-of-a-kind lab space housed within the larger GMRI Commercial St. facility. In the Cohen Center, students will:

  • Measure live lobsters
  • Examine plankton under a microscope
  • Analyze data displayed on a cutting-edge digital technology platform

They'll explore questions like, "Why is the Gulf of Maine warming so quickly?" and "What kinds of new species will we see as waters warm?"

 For more, explore our new video series: Inside LabVenture

LabVenture: Riding The Bus

Every child’s LabVenture experience starts with a ride on our LabVenture bus. Beyond transportation, the bus ride is an integral and intentional piece of the educational experience. The design of the bus, for example, highlights the core concepts of LabVenture, including key species and climate trends in the Gulf of Maine. Our busing policy also exemplifies our commitment to equity. Our custom-designed bus picks students up at their school — wherever in the state that might be — and transports them free of charge to our waterfront lab in downtown Portland.


LabVenture: Going Hands-On

Most students have never been in working research laboratory — but LabVenture puts the tools of science in their hands. Watch as they measure live lobsters, examine plankton under a microscope, and collaborate in groups to share their findings. Hands-on activities make science real for students. More than anything, experiences like holding a live lobster are just plain exciting. That’s a feeling we want students to have about science — and creating that excitement will always be one of the most rewarding aspects of LabVenture.


LabVenture: Understanding Climate Change

Climate change affects all of us. In recent years, the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than almost anywhere else in the global ocean — a scientific finding that comes directly from the professional research scientists in our lab. More than any generation before, today’s students need to understand the science of climate change. Through the LabVenture experience, students explore the impact of warming on the Gulf of Maine ecosystem through the lens of two key species: lobsters and black seabass. Someday these students will be the stewards of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the engine of our Marine economy. Our job is to empower them with climate knowledge and experiences that will allow them to thrive.


LabVenture: Building Data Skills

Perhaps no skill set is more important for today’s students than the ability to create, analyze and interpret data. Through LabVenture, students build these skills using real data sets from NASA, NOAA, our own lab, and elsewhere. We surface these concepts in the context of a changing ecosystem, but we focus on skills that will help students navigate a world that is also changing socially, politically, and economically. So, while today they may be using data skills to determine the age of a fish or the ideal temperature for a lobster — as adults they may use the same skills to interpret a complex news story, or make a difficult decision at work.


LabVenture: More Than A Field Trip

After serving 150,000-plus students over the course of more than a decade, we’ve seen first-hand the difference a day of science learning makes — but LabVenture is so much more than a one-day field trip. We provide a suite of tools and resources designed to help both students and teachers bring LabVenture back home and in the classroom. LabVenture is a special experience for Maine middle schoolers, but for both students and teachers, their day in the lab is just the beginning.


LabVenture: Becoming A Scientist

What counts as science? Who gets to be a scientist? Through LabVenture, we aim to broaden students' understanding of these questions. We want every student who comes to our lab to leave feeling like a scientist. We also want them to know that science can happen anywhere — in labs and classrooms, but also at home, on a lobster boat, and underwater. Students in our lab practice skills, but more importantly, they’re practicing an identity. Each student takes on the role of a scientist and, in doing so, expands his or her understanding of what that means.


LabVenture: Ten Years Later

Recent college graduate Emily Miller was one of the first middle schoolers to join us for LabVenture over a decade ago. Today she joins us to share the impact the program had on her, starting her down a path to a career in science.

LabVenture: Behind The Scenes

Go behind the scenes with Chief Education Officer Leigh Peake for an inside look at the making of LabVenture. The new LabVenture is a totally unique science learning experience that places students at the center of some of the most important questions scientists explore every day.

LabVenture: The Experience

Experience LabVenture as the students do in this simulated presentation of the program’s global lead-in video — the first thing students experience when they enter our lab. Watch as scientists tee up the key question for the students to explore: How is climate change affecting species in the Gulf of Maine?