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Making Meaning – Step by Step with Vital Signs – Review

May 3rd, 2010

April 29th sessions recorded:

Afternoon: http://stateofmaine.na4.acrobat.com/p32117522/

Evening: http://stateofmaine.na4.acrobat.com/p97793153/

MLTI is proud to partner with Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Vital Signs initiative, a  program that encompasses technology, content and pedagogy using inquiry-based learning. Incorporating the four strands of science learning to deal with essential questions regarding invasive species, Vital Signs offers teachers and students a way to be real scientists dealing with real observations and data.

Vital signs website, http://vitalsignsme.org/, provides a rich environment that allows users to set up accounts so they can add to the data and make comments on fellow citizen-scientists’ observations. However, even if you do not register, you can access the ever-expanding datasets about invasive species through the Expore Data tab.

After formulating an essential question, a user can set up a useful query using the Advanced Search feature. The results of the search can then be downloaded as a CSV (comma separated values) file and inserted into a spreadsheet like Numbers, using the Sort and Export feature.

Once in the spreadsheet, pertinent data can be specified by deleting the extraneous data columns. Then charts and graphs can be made using the appropriate data.

Even better, Google Fusion Tables, http://tables.googlelabs.com/, can be used to take the latitude and longitude data to place information on a map, and then export the map as a layer (KML) into Google Earth. Wow!

This is just a general overview. The specific steps are outlined in a document available at


The four strands of science learning are explained in Ready, Set, Science:


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