Maine high schoolers spend week as ocean researchers

Bigelow Laboratory engages students across Maine for 30th year
Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:00pm

Sixteen Maine high school juniors completed a week of experiential learning at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences on May 24. They worked side-by-side with Bigelow Laboratory scientists, went on a research cruise, conducted experiments, and learned how to analyze and present their results as part of the 30th annual Keller BLOOM (Bigelow Laboratory Orders Of Magnitude) program. Over the last three decades, the program has provided nearly 500 Maine students with education based on authentic ocean research.

“Reaching the 30-year milestone was quite an achievement,” said Research Scientist Nicole Poulton, who directs the program. “About 65 percent of our participants pursue a career in science and live in Maine, and it’s been wonderful to stay in touch with many of them as they attend college and move forward with their careers.”

The five-day spring program provides students with an immersive hands-on experience learning about the physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of the local marine environment. Students apply for the program, and 16 are selected from across Maine. The program offers them the opportunity to learn what a scientific career might be like.

Poulton organized a career panel as part of the 30th anniversary celebration. Six former participants from the last three decades of the program shared advice and stories about their career progression with the current students. The curriculum also included a new biotechnology component, during which the students explored the field of seaweed aquaculture.

To make the Keller BLOOM program open and accessible for everyone, all costs of participation are covered. The First National Bank, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, and the Reny Charitable Foundation provided key contributions this year, as did other foundations and individuals.

The Keller BLOOM program is named in honor of the late Maureen Keller, a Bigelow Laboratory scientist. Bigelow Laboratory Senior Research Scientist David Fields co-leads the program alongside Poulton.

“One of the most important impacts of the BLOOM program is the human element. The program has helped students jump-start their careers, and in many cases, realize their career ambitions,” Fields said. “For all the staff and faculty involved in this program over the past 30 years, it has been deeply rewarding to watch these students develop and contribute to advancements in science.”

The 16 Maine students who participated in the 2019 Keller BLOOM program were:

· Zachary Bhe, Lincoln Academy

· Katherine Bowen, Camden Hills Regional High School

· Katie Callahan, Mt. Ararat High School

· Sydnie Della Croce, Sanford High School

· Rosemary Cumback, Harpswell Coastal Academy

· Harmony Dawson, Belfast Area High School

· Josephine Ek, R.W. Traip Academy

· Shanti Gallivan, Yarmouth High School

· Olivia Kelly, Islesboro Central School

· Haley Leavitt, Maine Arts Academy

· Camille Michaud, Mount Desert Island High School

· Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School

· Jacob Pelletier, Madawaska High School

· Hayden Platteter, Morse High School

· Toby Seidel, Lincoln Academy

· Jordan Snell, Gardiner Area High School