What are people saying about Vital Signs?
Forbes Tech, Anthony Kosner, 02.23.12 : "....To use another local example, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has site that they developed called Vital Signs that is a geolocation app that middle school students (and anyone else) can use to help track the spread of invasive species in Maine. Not that Pinwheel can replace all of the functionality that was built into this site, but imagine how easy it will be in the future for scientists and environmental groups to use a free, public platform for these kinds of initiatives...."
Vital Signs provides me the support I need to be a scientist myself and to model this for my students.
This is the neatest use of this little white machine that I’ve seen.
Vital Signs is an excellent example of how technology can bring people together, enhance learning for both experts and scientists as well as students and the general community. Seeing students interacting with each other across great distances and with scientists and other experts is engaging our students here in Maine. No longer is there a separation between "the real world" and "school" because Vital Signs serves as the bridge. Kudos the to team who had put so much work into developing and making Vital Signs available to the world.
Encouraging communication among students, districts, scientists, citizen scientists and educators about science creates legitimacy and meaningful, memorable engagement.
What sets this program apart is that the kids get to work with professional scientists, doing important, real work. By giving young people a chance to do serious projects alongside adults in this way, it satisfies an innate desire to learn how to be an adult. The results of their work are valued by those they learn from. This is education as it really should be.
Vital Signs is one of the best science education programs I have seen in 20 years. Students - the full range of students - are engaged in substantive, authentic science. The easy access technology expands and immortalizes the reach of students' work, connecting them to both peers and scientists. The science produced has genuine value to our region, and it inspires the kids involved to see science as relevant to themselves and crucial to bettering their world.
A wonderful learning tool that helps our environment and our children.
It is critical for students to learn how to study environmental change scientifically, how to base ideas on evidence, and how to extract meaning from measurements they make. Vital Signs provides tools that are accessible and vital to that process, and makes it possible for students and schools to share their data and their findings. Vital Signs provides enormous possibilities for meaningful learning, and for making real contribution to our collective scientific understanding of how our environment and our role in it are changing.
Where, oh where were innovative programs like this when I went to school in the 60's...or when my kids went to school in the late 90's? Congrats on your program's relevance and practicality...just what I would expect from the innovative educators in Maine.
If you want to know whether Vital Signs "gets" the importance of openness, participation, and sharing in learning, look no further than their tech infrastructure. They built in Drupal, re-used software wherever they could--and when they couldn't re-use and had to build, they contributed their work back to the project. The Drupal community noticed; Vital Signs was featured on the Drupal home-page a few months ago. What does that have to do with learning? Plenty, I would argue. It says something important about the care with which the Vital Signs team implements their vision and core values throughout the project, not just in the high-visibility areas. It also demonstrates a commitment to reducing barriers to learning far beyond their project's borders. Vital Signs is an exceptionally well-conceived, well-managed, and well-executed project. I consider it an honor to be even a small part of a project that touches so many lives, and does so with such a consistently, rigorously high level of quality.
Vital Signs is a successful model of how the immediacy of the latest web-based technology can be used to satiate the innate fascination that kids have for nature and exploration, while also contributing to the various needs and interests of multiple conservation groups and researchers. Furthermore, the project provides hands-on training in natural resource inventory to students, teachers, and any interested citizens. These training experiences will not only prepare participants for future careers in the natural resources, but also provide broad-based support and understanding of environmental issues. All of these elements are tied together through a simple, accessible, internet browser-based interface that is attractive, interactive, easy to read, and, at times, even funny. Overall, I think this project is an amazing leap towards broadcasting the training, motivation, and resources necessary to engage the public in environmental conservation.
Vital Signs gives us everything we need to make science real for students. No more excuses!
It was so motivating for me as a teacher to have a face to face conversation with ‘real life’ scientists telling me how important my role is in the preservation of the environment as well as how important my students are.