This three-year project focuses on the problem of storm water pollution which is a significant issue in Maine. It seeks to engage high school students, particularly female, Native Americans, African Americans, and students from rural schools in Maine, in meaningful research and engineering education in the area of storm water management and environmental pollution mitigation. In this project, the high school student participants work with their teachers and the University of Maine faculty and students, alongside local communities as well as representatives from private, non-profit, and governmental organizations. This project also supports the purchase of permanent laboratory equipment such as spectrophotometers and water quality sensor packages for high school laboratories.
Intellectual Merit The project participants plan to: (1) build a sensor network for water quality evaluation along a section of the Penjajawoc stream going through forested/residential/industrial parts of Bangor, Maine; (2) collect real-time data on water quality from the sensors and laboratory analysis of water samples; (3) use computer modeling for data analysis; and (4) produce water quality maps for local water ways. A five-day Storm Water Institute, offered annually at the University of Maine, prepares the participants to work on participatory citizen science projects related to storm water management. Anticipated results include increased student interest in STEM education and careers, in particular about environmental science and engineering, through their involvement in this project-based hands-on experience on topics that are of societal relevance.
Broader Impacts The project plans to engage 180 students and 45 teachers from schools and members of the public, including Native American communities from the Bangor, Auburn, and Portland areas of Maine. At least 75% of the students are female and from groups underrepresented or underserved in STEM including students with disabilities. It is expected that at least 50% of the student participants will later apply to and be accepted into a STEM-related post-secondary degree program. The model of empowering underrepresented minority students, teachers, and communities by engaging them in environmentally relevant problems and engineering solutions is potentially transferrable and scalable nationwide.