In short, we want a marine ecology laboratory that supports A) citizen science, B) hands-on learning, and C) outreach, including tours, of the Gulf of Maine.
The Gulf of Maine is an invaluable resource for Mainers, whether directly or indirectly. Many rely on the Gulf's aquaculture and commercial fishing industry. Still more visit Maine's historical lighthouses, forts, public parks,
sandy beaches, and unique rocky shorelines.
There are a ton of questions begging to be answered about the Gulf of Maine. Why don't we give the community access to the knowledge, space, and equipment needed to conduct ecological research?
For more detailed information, keep reading!
The MECMSC campaign is the heart of the operation that is doing good. The description of the campaign will be answered in the form of an FAQ (frequently asked questions), because these are all questions important to understanding
the overall goal of the MECMSC and why funding is essential.
What is the Incubator?
The MECMSC incubator laboratory has enough room to support 8 researchers at a time, and that's assuming everyone is there at the same time! We look to provide a laboratory space that is stocked with all the equipment and materials
needed to appropriately foster science learning through conducting ecological research in the Gulf of Maine. We will be offering rentable laboratory space for independent researchers (currently, individuals do not have an option like this!)
in addition to education services.
DIYBio (Do-It-Yourself Biology) and community laboratory space is a recent innovation, with only a few labs around the nation. We want to join in on the fun and offer independent researchers in Maine to have that opportunity as
well! This will essentially be a "DIY Ecology" lab with a special interest in incubating scientists.
Ecology is fun. Ecology gets you out into the field where all the cool stuff happens. Ecology lets you look not only at individual organisms, but also entire communities and how all of the organisms interact! Ecology is a good
way to get people interested in science. It's also the perfect field to conduct research without spending much money. Ecology is also extremely important to the southern Maine community, who work and play in/around the Gulf of Maine. The Gulf is home to salmon
aquaculture, commercial fisheries, and tidal power operations, all heavily grounded in ecology! As such, the community already has a personal relationship to the Gulf, so let's take that one step further!
And, most importantly, ecology is a field where the equipment is relatively inexpensive compared to equipment used in other scientific fields. With the right equipment, individuals can conduct credible research, as long as they
are also aware of the proper research techniques.
Doing a plankton tow during winter in the Gulf
What will the incubator lab support?
The incubator lab will support a variety of activities including, but not limited to, ecological research (both field and laboratory), science education (importance of ecological research, research methods, experimental design,
basic bio-statistics), science and creativity (scientific illustration workshops for children and their families), and field trips involving both field collections and basic laboratory analysis (species identification, etc.).
What's the point of all this?
Life, physical, and social sciences estimated employment is 1,340 out of 178,140 persons employed in Cumberland County (4,380/581,110 statewide Maine), a whopping 0.75%
of Portland’s workforce. Additionally, these numbers are significantly lower than all but one other occupational groups in Cumberland County (Maine.gov CWRI). This number is highly discouraging, as science should be more highly represented if Maine wants to
promote working in Maine to the younger demographic with science degrees. Administrative, sales, and food preparation occupations are simply not enough to reign in that younger demographic that Portland, and Maine as a whole, needs to become technologically
competitive with surrounding states. Additionally, only 41% of Maine high school juniors are proficient in science, indicating a need for experiential learning.
The overall goal of the supported activities is three-fold: 1) to get people excited about science by actually experiencing the research process!!! 2) to engage and develop the community's critical thinking skills, and 3) to increase
the community's personal relationship with their environment so that they are more invested in its protection and conservation.