Harvard Kent Science Teacher Studies This Summer at Acadia National Park

Lauren Nickerson, a Science Specialist teacher at Harvard- Kent Elementary School, joined an Earthwatch research team for an seven-day expedition in Acadia National Park at Schoodic Institute to help scientists understand how climate change is affecting the biodiversity within Acadia National Park and surrounding areas.

Nickerson was a part of Earthwatch’s Teach Earth USA Fellowship Program.

From July 18-24, Nickerson joined seven other Earthwatch volunteers and teachers from the United States for the “Climate Change: Sea to Trees at Acadia National Park” project. The research team was led by Abe Miller-Rushing, Science Coordinator for Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Education and Research Center; as well as Sarah Hooper, the Education Specialist for Schoodic Institute; Hannah Webber, the Marine Ecology Program Director for Schoodic Institute; Seth Benz the director of the Schoodic Bird Ecology Program; and Dr. Nicholas Fisichelli Schoodic Institute’s President and CEO.

“I came home from my Earthwatch expedition feeling a whole new sense of connection to the natural world, a fresh understanding of climate change, and a renewed enthusiasm for the way I think and learn about science” said Nickerson.

Harvard Kent teacher Lauren Nickerson at Acadia National Park this summer.

The Earthwatch fellows were involved in three major projects working alongside scientists looking at climate change and adaptation strategies (RAD: Resist, Accept, Direct) at Acadia National Park/Schoodic Institute. The Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans. With this knowledge, participants were tasked with looking at three different refugia species (resilient species) in Acadia National Park, as well as the shellfish population and what is being done to combat the effects of ocean acidification on the soft shell clam populations. Last, participants did various BioBlitzs (using the iNaturalist and Seek app) that help scientists and citizen scientists identify species biodiversity from around the world.

“It was such a pleasure being involved in real climate science data collection and being a part of such an inspirational team of teachers and scientists,” said Nickerson. “I was thrilled to capture video and pictures of the various organisms we identified on iNaturalist/Seek for part of the study, too. I can’t wait to integrate it all into my classroom and community at the Harvard Kent this school year.”

Earthwatch connects people with scientists worldwide to conduct environmental research and empowers them with the knowledge they need to conserve the planet.

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