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NSB Has Helped Over 160,000 Maine Students Through Support of Gulf of Maine Research Institute

PORTLAND—When the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), a renowned non-profit organization dedicated to developing solutions to global ocean challenges, set its sights on developing a transcendent education program to benefit students throughout Maine, Norway Savings Bank was fortunate to be one of the first to be called for support.

“Being asked to partner with GMRI in building a world-class learning experience for middle school students across Maine has led to close to 10,000 young people each year being exposed to science tools and inquiry far beyond the scope of a classroom,” said Janice de Lima, VP and Community Reinvestment Act Officer at Norway Savings Bank. “It was a request that we have been happy to fulfill.”

And it’s a request that now totals over $59,000 in financial assistance from Norway Savings Bank, including $5,000 in 2024, for LabVenture.

“Our goal is to give the next generation the science and data skills they will need to manage the challenges and opportunities that come with a changing climate,” said Leigh Peake, Chief Education Officer for GMRI. “LabVenture is a totally unique science learning experience that invites students to explore some of the most complex questions of today, like how ocean warming is impacting the Gulf of Maine and how those changes influence our ecosystems, communities, and industries.”

Each year, LabVenture reaches nearly 10,000 Maine middle schoolers for a hands-on, interactive, authentic experience examining the changing Gulf of Maine ecosystem. This program is offered at no cost to students, their families, or their schools, and transportation to and from GMRI’s Portland-based lab is provided to all public-school students. Since its inception in 2005, LabVenture has equipped more than 160,000 students with foundation STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematical) skills.

“It gives students the opportunities to understand and apply key scientific practices, such as gathering, representing, and analyzing data,” said Peake. “Students build and apply communication, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. The content and technology are continually updated to ensure a cutting-edge learning experience.”

Using NASA satellite data and local fishery data, students investigate how warming ocean temperatures are impacting key species, measure live lobsters, observe plankton under microscopes, analyze real sea surface temperature data displayed on interactive touch tables, conduct an underwater species survey at a biodiversity tank, and more.

“The impact of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on these students may well be limitless. The Institute is developing and delivering collaborative solutions to real challenges and instilling a love of science and an understanding of the importance of stewarding natural resources in young people,” said Dan Walsh, President and CEO of Norway Savings Bank. “Who knows how many of these students will one day pursue a career in responding and adapting to climate or oceanic challenges?”

Students regularly pen thank you notes to the Bank and other businesses that support LabVenture.

“Reading those notes is always heartwarming and inspiring. I know our employees enjoy it, too,” said Walsh. “You can see how the experience was enlightening, motivating, and memorable.”

“Thanks to supporters like Norway Savings Bank, we are able to welcome students from all 16 counties in Maine and offer equitable access to this transformative STEM experience,” said Maeve McGowan, Corporate and Foundation Relations Coordinator for GMRI. “Watching students navigate our learning laboratory and the LabVenture experience with such enthusiasm and energy is remarkable and gratifying. We are honored to help catalyze a lifelong love of science learning.”

For more information about the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, its history, and its work, click here.