Community Engagement Core

Science Students and Educators

Engagement of students is an opportunity to stimulate broader community interaction with our science while creating informed young citizens. We are currently working work with the Schoodic Education Research Center (SERC) Institute, to expand the scope of their innovative Acadia Learning high school science curriculum. The Acadia Learning program involves teachers and students in the collection of local soil, plant, and macroinvertebrate samples that are then analyzed to determine mercury content. Although a variety of samples are typically collected, it has been the collection of dragonfly larvae that has captured the interest of many of the students. It is for this reason that we have come to refer to this effort as the Dragonfly Program.

In the fall of 2012, teachers at Gorham High School, which is downstream from a superfund site in Berlin, NH, introduced the Dragonfly Program to students and they began sampling in the fall of that year. The unit also enables students to learn about the history of the Superfund site.

The EPA included the Berlin site, a former chlor-alkali facility, on the Androscoggin River, on the National Priorities List in September 2005, and the remedial investigation began in 2006. As revealed by samples collected and analyzed by Dartmouth in collaboration with federal agencies, mercury has settled in soil in Gorham near a bend in the river. Fish consumption advisories are currently in place for the entire Androscoggin River, and wildlife officials remain concerned about seven notable bird species that are known to live or feed close to the site.

Most recently, Kathrin Lawlor, our Community Engagement Coordinator, served as the NH Education Coordinator for the U.S. EPA Environmental Education grant, Building School and Community Collaborations to Eliminate Arsenic from Drinking Water in Maine and New Hampshire: A Model for the US, which is now complete. The grant was a two-year project intended to create and pilot a national model of environmental education that facilitates schools and community organizations working together to address the public health risks of exposure to toxic contaminants in drinking water, with a particular focus on arsenic. The project included the development of a website, All About Arsenic. The final grant report and evaluation are available upon request.

External Resources for Students and Teachers:

NIEHS: Environmental Health Science Education
NIH's Environmental Health Student Portal
EPA's Teacher Resources and Lesson Plans
EPA: Learn About Environmental Health Risks

For more information, contact Kathrin Lawlor, Community Engagement Coordinator.