Institutes & events

Institutes & PD opportunities

Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program (VLMP) Invasive Plant Training for Teachers* - August 23 - Auburn

  • Connect with other teachers interested in freshwater invasive plants at this VLMP IPP 101 training
  • Register HERE!
  • If this date or location does not work for you, check this list for an IPP 101 training near you, here

Field Day* – Lakes Environmental Association and Vital Signs - August 26 - Maine Lake Science Center

  • 8:45 am – 12 pm, Lakes Environmental Association and Vital Signs co-host a freshwater Field Day at The Maine Lake Science Center at 51 Willet Road in Bridgton, ME
  • No travel support is provided, but contact hours and light refreshments available
  • Register HERE!

Mini-Grant to support Freshwater Investigations*
Apply for funds for equipment and/or travel support to get your students collecting critical data in freshwater habitats. There will be two rounds of awards in the coming school year. The first round applications will be due in August, and mini-grants will be awarded in September. A second round will launch in February, 2018 for spring and fall 2018 investigations. See application
. Email for more information.

Regional Middle School Teacher Communities
We are looking for middle school teachers who are excited about authentic science investigations in the classroom to join the below teacher communities. If you’re already doing a range of science investigations in the classroom, join this community and share your experiences, resources, and ideas! If you aren’t doing as many authentic science investigations as you would like, join to learn from others, be introduced to new opportunities, and be part of a supportive community of teachers working to integrate more science investigations into the classroom.

What participation looks like:

  • Attend a 1-day community launch
  • Attend 2 additional in-person meet-ups
  • Attend 2 virtual meet-ups
  • Share individual, ongoing reflections, and classroom artifacts

Benefits of Participation

  • $250 stipend
  • Up to $200 for classroom resources and equipment to support science investigations in the classroom
  • Contact hours for each community event
  • Mileage reimbursement for travel to in-person meetings
  • Substitute reimbursement to your school for the launch event day
  • Being part of a supportive community of teachers

We are currently looking for middle school teachers to join the following regional teacher communities:

  • Hancock County (launch - June 29 at Maine Maritime Academy)
  • Western Maine (Franklin & Oxford: launch - August 15 at University of Maine Farmington)
  • Midcoast Maine (Lincoln, Knox & Waldo: launch - September 29 at Bigelow Labs)

Email for more information or to apply.

Try out one of our anywhere, anytime PD modules to get started and dive deeper into VS:

Email for details on any of these opportunities.

*These opportunities are generously supported by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (MOHF). MOHF is a program through which proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket (currently Stinkin’ Rich ) are used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. For more information visit MOHF.

Educator Institutes

We’re always interested in meeting Maine educators who want to transform how students learn science.

Each year we invite more educators to join the 100+ already contributing to Vital Signs’ statewide effort to engage, challenge, and mobilize students to contribute to an authentic science research effort. Institutes, workshops, and webinars happen throughout the year.

Vital Signs has truly transformed my teaching... Vital Signs has given meaning to field work. Data collected by students is important and actually used. Feedback from real scientists who use the data is given to students. No better way to incorporate NGSS in my opinion.
Teacher 2015

Institutes offer educators firsthand experience with all components of the Vital Signs program from framing issues and research questions to data collection, peer review, data analysis, reflection, and final project creation. Each day offers a chance to work collaboratively with fellow educators from around the state, sharing time, energy, and ideas. Educators will meet scientists, citizen scientists, and other educators active in the Vital Signs community, and will be prepared for active participation themselves. Institutes allow time to explore, do, play, reflect, and create a personalized action plan that guides implementation.


  • Connect your students with the scientific community
  • Experience inquiry and other essential elements of scientific practice
  • Become familiar with Vital Signs technology, standards-aligned curriculum, and community resources
  • Do authentic field work in freshwater and coastal systems
  • Understand how to incorporate Vital Signs into your current curriculum or program
  • Collaborate and network with similarly-inspired teachers throughout Maine, including 100 already participating in and advising Vital Signs.

Perks (always subject to change)

It's incredible to see and hear from the scientists who are involved in this project we are undertaking. I love their passion and enthusiasm for science and inquiry!
Teacher Institute 2009

  • Field equipment to borrow while you’re active with VS
  • Ongoing support from the VS team and community of educators
  • Contact Hours
  • Stipend
  • Lodging for those from away
  • Mileage for those traveling

An Institute in your future?

If you sense an Institute in your future, tell us about yourself and we’ll send you Institute announcements direct from us to your inbox. Send us:

  • Your name
  • Your email
  • Your school or organization
  • The grade(s) and subject(s) you teach
  • A short and sweet statement about why you’re interested and how you think your students might benefit

See you soon!