MSSM STEM Collaborative Camp Part 1 – Vital Signs at MSSM Camp
- From July 22 – Juy 28 I attended MSSM’s STEM Collaborative Camp to support three VS Educator Leaders as they led a course on Vital Signs. The VS team is excited to have VS Educator Leaders share and teach other educators about the program. We are hoping that this is a model that we can repeat again and again, and I was happy to be the on-the-ground support for this first experiment.
In five 80-minute class periods, the educators taking the VS course had many of the same experiences that educators have at a VS institute. They learned about the VS community. They learned about how the Educator Leaders are using Vital Signs in their classrooms. They played the M&M game, and checked out skills stations. They headed out into the field to answer the question, “How does Japanese knotweed impact species diversity?”.
Things that these participants said that they liked about the course included getting immediate feedback on their observations, and really getting out and following the protocols. The participants also indicated that the class was a little confusing in the beginning but that it really came together. I think that this is reflective both of how over time the participants got a better sense of what Vital Signs is, and of how the Educator Leaders started to get to know one another.
Outside of class time, we also went on the hunt for a species that isn’t officially invasive in Maine, but is being managed on the local wildlife refuge. We didn’t find it in the section of the refuge that we explored, but we did find it on the school campus (observation coming). One of our Educator Leaders kept up the hunt for this potentially costly species after camp ended (observation coming). While in the refuge we did observe invasive honeysuckle with red berries and with orange berries. We also found some beautiful native species including
blue-bead lilly and Queen Anne's lace.
These educators walked away excited to put their cameras and quadrats to good use. We can’t wait to see what these educators do with Vital Signs in their classrooms, but signs are very promising! One educator has already headed back out into the field. Check out his work at Aweatherhead.
If you’re interested in learning more about Vital Signs, or if you’re an experienced VS educator and you have an opportunity to share Vital Signs with other educators, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.