Climate change is affecting weather patterns, human infrastructure, and natural ecosystems. In Maine, the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean, likely due to climate change.

Through the NASA-funded Real World, Real Science (RWRS) project, EDC’s Oceans of Data Institute partnered with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to re-invent their LabVenture experience for fifth- and sixth-grade students. LabVenture focuses on the use of authentic data—including data from NASA and NOAA—to explore the effects of climate change on the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Through classroom-ready modules, students built on what they learned during LabVenture to study additional local climate change impacts in Maine.

Key Activities

The project carried out the following activities:

  • Worked with GMRI to develop a new learning experience focused on climate change in the Gulf of Maine for the LabVenture Program at the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning
  • Created classroom-ready, data-focused curriculum modules on the effect of climate change on Maine’s habitats
  • Evaluated the data and climate learning outcomes of students who participated in the LabVenture experience and who used the classroom modules
  • Documented students’ thinking about data and climate
  • Described the development of a data-focused science center community of practice (COP) among New England science and technology centers (STCs)


  • EDC developed seven classroom modules that enable fifth- and sixth-grade students to explore different Maine ecosystems using scientific data. During the 2019-2020 school year, the modules were used with 20 teachers and nearly 300 students.
  • EDC’s evaluation examined data from nearly 300 students from 17 classrooms who attended LabVenture and used the classroom modules. Students demonstrated significant gains in data skills and understanding of climate impacts on the Gulf of Maine.
  • The evaluation team worked with GMRI leadership to inform the development of a COP among STCs, resulting in new data-focused activities for informal science contexts.
  • The EDC and GMRI teams presented papers and posters at conferences, including the 2021 annual conference of the National Association for Research on Science Teaching (NARST) and the 2021 annual conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
  • GMRI was funded for a second phase of Real World, Real Science. In this phase, they are building on the work of Real World, Real Science 1.0 and creating connected learning ecosystems  for youth, which include authentic scientific datasets and cultural and historical knowledge. EDC is conducting the evaluation of this work. 

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Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Bodies of Work