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GK-12 Sensors! in Secondary Schools

University of Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (3) Design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.
  • (4) Encourage and support activities and student and community organizations that provide opportunities for students to be engaged in their campuses and communities.
  • (8) Involve students in the development and sustaining of campus/community partnerships.



Increase the number of Maine students aspiring to careers in high technology by providing graduate fellow mentors to high and middle schools;

  • Create partnerships with local schools and communities around innovative programs in science and engineering;
  • Stimulate new technology businesses connected to cutting edge sensor science, spatial information, and engineering.
  • Coordinate with rural, suburban and urban Maine teachers participating in a related NSF program that trains them to use sensors to increase student awareness of science and engineering careers.
  • Involve middle and high school students in the science, mathematics and engineering of a high profile emerging technology such as sensors  in order to encourage them to follow career paths in engineering and science.

Since 2002, this NSF-supported program at The University of Maine has enabled graduate fellows in Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics to partner with more than a dozen Maine high-and middle schools on a variety of projects that use the sensor technologies available at the University to engage students in fun and meaningful projects.  For example, two fellows from the University taught Bangor High students how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to create emergency response maps for Bangor. Another fellow worked with middle school students in Hermon on programming robots to extend their sensing capacities.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic knowledge: Both graduate fellows and secondary students identify, define, and describe local problems and their connections to problems on the state and national levels (particularly issues in building and sustaining a technologically sophisticated citizenry and workforce).  Both groups discuss and explore how individuals confident in science and engineering concepts can effect change in how people live and work.
  • Civic skills: Secondary students learn to work cooperatively with others, build rapport, effectively advocate for their points of view, and become more aware of how citizens effect change and groups can gain expertise and overcome problems.  The graduate fellows learn how to organize effective activities, facilitate team building, and use their technical, critical thinking, and communication skills to further the secondary students’ learning and engagement with their learning and service.
  • Civic attitudes: Participants develop confidence in their scientific and technical abilities and abilities to effect change through collaborative work.  They learn they can make a difference and see themselves as productive contributing members of the Maine community.

Contact Information

John F. Vetelino, Principal Investigator
Constance Holden and Stephen Godsoe, Co-Principal Investigators
c/o Susan Niles
5708 Barrows Hall
The University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5708

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy