I spent two weeks of September as an OERRHub linked fellow.   My itinerary was filled with opportunities catered to my needs and interests.  I was immediately immersed in Sprint Week.  I had frequent meetings with my research collaborator, Bea de los Arcos.  I learned about two cool science education programs: iSpot and NQuire.   I got a tour of the Open Media Unit.  And I enjoyed the companionship and learned much from fellows Kari Arfstrom (Flipped Learning Network) and Daniel Williamson (OpenStax).   During my stay, my feedback and input was encouraged, and the team did a fantastic job of making sure our time was productive and enjoyable.

My fellowship is linked with Vital Signs, an OER science education program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) based in Portland, ME.  I’m part of a Hewlett funded collaborative research project between GMRI and the University of Maine (UMO).  I’m currently a 2nd year Ph.D student at UMO.  I was very fortunate that my collaborator at VS decided to send me to OERRHub, despite just starting with VS.   I had more to gain than what I could possibly give.

Vital Signs (VS) is a citizen science platform for students, teachers, and citizen scientists to contribute critical data on native and invasive species occurrence in habitats across their state of Maine.  The data is published on a publicly accessible, scientist reviewed and used, web-based database.

In a VS typical investigation, student groups are given a species identification card that provides written descriptions, diagrams, and photos highlighting characteristic features of a target species.  In the field, student teams use the species card to compare the specimens they observe to the target species.  They then make a claim that they did or did not find the target species and construct an argument using written and photo evidence to support the claim.  Students then publish the observation to the VS website.

VS has an awesome team to support teachers and students.  The VS platform also supports community forums and blogs.  Teachers can  share VS-related lessons and activities.  All of this content is under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 3.0 license.  Potentially, this allows VS to be seamlessly expanded and adopted in other states.  VS also has the potential to model an ideal open science community.

During my fellowship, Bea and I shared our research goals, and determined where OERRH hypotheses has overlap with VS research questions:

VS and OERRHub

Because we’re both conducing research on VS, we are joining efforts, and we hope to share data to meet both our needs.

I’m looking forward to continuing my collaboration with OERRHub.