Integrated Science students work with Ms. Long and Ms. Phelps on their climate change research projects in the LA Library.

Ms. Long’s and Mr. Walter’s Integrated Science classes are collaborating with Technology Specialist Michael Johnson and LA Librarian Laura Phelps on research projects that will serve as the major benchmark assignment for the year.

Students are encouraged to research a topic that is relevant and important to them personally. Some of the topics students are working on include how climate change is affecting Maine’s fisheries, what major sports leagues are doing to address climate change, and how coral reefs are affected by climate change.

Integrated Science, usually taken by ninth graders, is a gateway class in the science department. The course covers a wide range of topics including properties of water, density, and ocean currents. Included with these topics are some of the skills that will help students to become successful citizens such as understanding the scientific method, using evidence to support claims, and interpreting data.

Before vacation, all Integrated Science students met with Mr. Johnson to learn how to organize their Google Drives. Then, Ms. Phelps provided them with an overview of the research process and demonstrated how to access and search the Digital Maine Library, an extensive online resource available to all Mainers. Students also set up their NoodleTools accounts, which they will use as a citation resource for this (and future) research projects at LA.

Ms. Long and Mr. Walter hope the Integrated Science curriculum will Integrated Science increase science literacy and help students succeed in upper level science classes at LA, as part of this goal, they wanted to introduce students to some of the resources that are available to them at LA.

“The goals of this project include helping students develop their ability to explore ideas that matter to them using reliable resources, determine methods to organize research efficiently, communicate the results they uncover, and defend the validity of their work,” said science teacher Joe Walter. “We hope this project helps build research skills that benefit students over time.”

“We chose the topic of climate change as the foundation for this project because it is going to be the single biggest issue affecting this and future generations,” said science teacher Prema Long. “It is also a polarizing issue with a huge amount of misinformation and misconceptions that are readily presented as fact. So it is very important that students are able to find and use reputable sources of information in order to form an educated opinion about this subject.”

Ninth grader Morgan Prior is researching how climate change is affecting the lobster industry. Morgan, who has been lobstering with her family her entire life, said, “I go lobstering so it is nice to know about climate change. The lobsters have been smaller than usual and I don’t know if it’s because of climate change.”

Other students have found the project beneficial as well. Freshman Tristan Gammon said “This project is a good way to show us how to properly research things and use tools like Noodletools to cite sources.”

According to student Gavin Fitzpatrick, “This project is important because climate change is so prominent and is a big issue today.”

Carson Hallowell said, “The topic that I’m researching is interesting and will be useful in the future.”

“I’ve learned the importance of finding good sources, and also that sometimes you really have to dig to find good information,” said Violet Bailey.

“This project has been such a fun collaboration,” said LA Director of Library Services Laura Phelps. “I love that students have had the opportunity to engage in a topic of their own choosing. We’ve explored a variety of sources, including academic journal articles in the Digital Maine Library and websites curated specifically for this project. The research process can be overwhelming, but I really encourage students to approach it like a scavenger hunt, broadening and narrowing their searches until they find just what they’re looking for. It gives me hope that our students, as scientists and researchers, can be part of the solution to climate change.”

“One essential role of the library is to collaborate with content area teachers to develop learning experiences that support students in becoming more information literate,” continued Ms. Phelps. “This project encourages students to engage in the inquiry process from start to finish: choosing a topic, accessing online and print resources, managing and organizing notes and citations, and synthesizing everything together into a final product.

“The research process is a marathon, not a sprint!”