Sara and her daughter on the IraC

Beyond the mudflat & microscope:
Lindsay Lab Outreach

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Outreach Overview:
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I like doing science and I like sharing science. So it's not suprising that I look for different ways to share my interests in marine science and invertebrate biology with people outside the University. Like many other parents, I volunteer in the local schools, taking activities about marine ecology and deep sea bioluminescence on the road as my schedule permits. I regularly participate in the National Ocean Science Bowl, a competition for high school students that focuses on all aspects of ocean science. More directly related to my research, I am developing several online learning activities that focus on sensory biology in the the oceans. I continue to advise the Silver Wake Phytoplankton Project, which was designed to foster partnerships between coastal community phytoplankton monitoring volunteers and K-12 teachers and provided teachers with the training and resources to use marine phytoplankton as a vehicle for environmental education, while at the same time meeting state learning standards. Although the project officially ended in the summer of 2004, we are entering a "virtual" phase. I am also participating in the ocean-climate concept map being developed by the Centers for Ocean Sciences Excellence in Education- Ocean Systems (COSEE-OS).


WebQuests in Marine Sensory Biology

In science classrooms throughout the United States, students learn about the "Five senses" almost exclusively in human terms. Yet the same senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) are important in the ocean, and many marine animals have adapted interesting solutions to sensing their environment. The webquests below provide students with an opportunity to explore how the senses contribute to marine ecology. My co-author is Dr. Jill Fegley, Education Coordinator at the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. The WebQuests are aimed at high school students, and are probably most appropriate for students in grades 11 and 12.

What is a WebQuest? A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March, and you can learn more about them at the WebQuest Page.

Sensory Biology and the Plight of the Right Whales
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered species in the world. Two major causes of death for endangered North Atlantic right whales are ship collisions and entanglements in fishing gear. To reduce the number of human-induced injuries to right whales, the Endangered Species Act requires that an Early Warning System be developed which would alert mariners to the presence of right whales to diminish the number of collisions with ships. This act also requires Maine fishermen to modify their fishing gear in areas where whales are common to help reduce right whale entanglements.

In this webquest, students are part of a team of specialists whose mission is to devise a method to reduce whale mortality due to either entanglement or ship collisions. The team studies the feeding behavior, migration patterns and geographical distribution of Northern right whales. One member of the team will research the sensory biology of whales to determine how they "see" and "hear" in their environment. Another specialist will examine current research and technology involving sonar and echolocation. Specific issues associated with whale entanglements and collisions will also be explored.

Scent in the Sea
Explore how different marine organisms use their sense of smell to find food, mates and more. Still in development -- check back later.

Presentations at Local Schools
I mainly work with schools in Old Town-Orono area. I have several activities/presentations that can be scaled up or down for students in kindergarten to middle school. The most popular activity focuses on marine bioluminescence, during which students learn how oranisms make their own light and examine the bioluminescence created by dried ostracods (a marine crustacean). Other topics include: Being a Sandy Shore Sleuth (an introduction to the ecology of a sandflat), Beach Bucket Scavenger Hunt (classifying sandy shore organisms from beach wrack), and Introducing Intertidal Ecology (with a food web exercise). I'm happy to share the details of the activities with other people, but I can only make a few presentations each year in person. Contact me for more information.

The Silver Wake
With a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded in 2003, I teamed up with Espearanza Stancioff of University of Maine Cooperative Extension/ Maine Sea Grant to develop an environmental education program for middle and high school teachers and students, called The Silver Wake. Using marine phytoplankton as a theme, the program engaged students in examining and protecting their local environment and demonstrates how local, hands-on science can help meet school reform standards, such as Maine’s Learning Results. Over the course of two years, The Silver Wake program trained 10 middle school teachers and four phytoplankton monitoring volunteers, developed curriculum, and provided assistance on phytoplankton and microscopy activities in participating classrooms. Participating teachers have incorporated more science and technology into their classroom teaching, using microscopes provided by Silver Wake, and created computer-based assignments. We also compiled a comprehensive Silver Wake Resource Notebook and presented several educational programs, including “The World Through a Drop of Water,” to over 300 middle school students. We are developing a website to continue this project online. For more information, contact Esperanza Stancioff at Maine Sea Grant.

National Ocean Science Bowl
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is a quiz-bowl competition for high school students on topics related to the study of the oceans. The competition is managed by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE), which represents 80 oceanographic institutions universities and aquaria including the University of Maine. Teams of students participate in regional competitions in the winter and the regional winners compete at the national competition in the spring. The Nor'Easter Bowl is the northern New England regional competition, and was hosted by Maine Sea Grant and the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine in 2006 , 2003 and 2000.

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Sara Lindsay with group of 3rd graders on the  RV Ira C.
With 3rd grade students on a field trip to the Darling Marine Center

whale tail picture

Go on a WebQuest to learn about sensory biology and whales
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newspaper article about  Sara Lindsay teaching in  the Leonard Middle School.

Marine Ecology at the Middle School


Sara with students at montessori school studying ostracod bioluminescence

Studying ostracod bioluminescence with Montessori school students

Some Outreach Links:
(will launch new windows)

The WebQuest Page
Search the comprehensive database of WebQuests maintained by
San Diego State University

National Ocean Sciences Bowl
The official CORE site

The Bridge
A great clearinghouse for K-12 marine science lesson plans and info

COSEE-Ocean Systems
A regional cooperation bringing ocean sciences educational resources to rural an inland communities


©2006-2008
Sara Lindsay

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