The Vital Signs program sponsored by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GRMI) is a fantastic way for students to do real scientific research and be able to publish their findings online. It, we have found, is also a great program to help us learn which skills need to be practiced as students learn to become credible scientists.
Some research groups were very successful in identifying their selected specimens and their data has been approved and posted on the Vital Signs website. Other groups may be able to post after checking over their information once again, while some were not successful in obtaining data necessary to post at this time.
It is extremely important that data is recorded appropriately, is accurate, and is supported by photographic evidence. All submitted data is eventually reviewed by actual scientists. Data not meeting quality standards specified by GMRI will not be posted. Information is checked by student teams and then given a final approval by me, Ms. Fitz.
The following groups successfully recorded data and now have their findings published on the Vital Signs site. Some have already been reviewed and approved as “findings” by scientists who are experts in this field.
- Abiotic Apples– Beach rose
- Styling Species– Oriental bittersweet
- Ecosystem Exterminators– Beach rose
- Funny Bunnies– Purple loosestrife
- Perfect Plants– Broad-leaved cattail
- Science Guys– Japanese knotweed
- Hogweed Poison, Inc.- Oriental bittersweet
All data collected from around the state can be found at the Explore Data link: http://vitalsignsme.org/explore/search. Our student work is posted under the date of November 3rd, 2010.
Student groups that had acceptable postings typically contained very precise and clear data supported by photographs. There were very few spelling and grammatical errors and their data recorded outside during field work matched what was recorded online.
Groups who have not had their postings approved may have had the following problems:
- Field notes were confusing and difficult to decipher.
- Field notes were not taken down during the field work but were attempted to be recorded from images and memory rather than actual observations.
- Evidence posted online did not match notes from the field.
- Photographic evidence did not support written evidence.
- Field notes were incomplete and inconclusive.
- Vital Signs Species cards were not carefully used in the identification process.
With the cold weather and change of season, identification of species at this time of the year is difficult. This process and skills learned and practiced will be repeated in the spring as new plant growth begins to appear.
The recording and collecting of data will be used throughout the school year as we all work to be successful scientists and to improve and learn new skills to help us to be successful.