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Maine Educators Re-Energized After Gathering

On February 28-29, 2024, 57 teachers, librarians, and out-of-school educators gathered for a two-day retreat organized and supported by members of the NASA Science Activation Program’s Learning Ecosystems Northeast project team. Based at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), Learning Ecosystems Northeast (LENE) supports regional peer communities of educators who are working to co-develop data-rich climate learning experiences that span learning contexts. This high-energy leap-day retreat was held on the campus of the University of Maine Orono (a project partner) and featured a balance of hands-on activities that educators can use in their learning contexts; reflection time to support educators to absorb and activate their learning; and collaborative planning time to design cross-context learning opportunities for youth.

As with all LENE events, relationship building was priority one, facilitated by evenings playing data-rich board games and a planetarium show by NASA Subject Matter Expert, Shawn Laatsch, at the Versant Planetarium on the University of Maine campus. Project partners from GMRI, University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H, Maine State Library, Education Development Center, and Stanford University participated in and/or helped facilitate the event.

The upcoming April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse featured prominently in conversations throughout the retreat, with new plans being drafted in real time through collaboration with experts and other educators. Thanks to NASA support, after two days of dynamic sessions, collaborative planning, and boundless enthusiasm, these educators departed with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to ignite a wave of inspired connected learning in their communities!

Here's what two of the retreat participants had to say about their experience:

Thank you for putting this together, this was so helpful! These gatherings give me the opportunity to meet people and make connections with them that would not have happened in any other way. It connects educators who are excited and motivated to get students activated around learning.

Sara King

Sara King

Hancock/Midcoast Connected Learning Ecosystem, Rural Aspirations Project

This was my first Connected Learning Ecosystem (CLE) experience and I found it incredibly invigorating and helpful. As a librarian, it was really useful to meet other educators to learn about what they are doing and how we might work together.

Samantha Cote

Samantha Cote

Windham Public Library, Western Maine CLE

The Learning Ecosystems Northeast project is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AB94A and is part of NASA’s Science Activation Portfolio. To learn more, visit: https://science.nasa.gov/sciact-team/gmri/

The image shows a wide view of hotel ballroom. About ten circular tables covered in white linen tablecloths are set up around the ballroom. On each table are a variety of craft and science materials, suggesting people previously were seated at the tables doing various activities. Most of the tables are clustered at the front right of the image, suggesting they were moved to create room for the activity that is the focus of the picture. At the front left of the image, in the open space created by clustering the tables, about 24 plastic red, blue, a nd white cones are regularly spaced in identical columns -- two red, then two white, then two blue cones. In the left foreground is a single presenter, actively gesturing at the grid of cones on the floor. In the distance, at the back of the image, is a large semi-circle of adults standing side-by-side facing the presenter and the grid of cones.
Teachers, librarians, and informal educators prepare to play an embodied modeling game based on a data model of the impact of ocean warming on intertidal species. The model is built on data from NASA, NOAA, and a citizen science investigation from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Ecosystem Investigation Network.