SPARTACUS Graduate Fellowship Program

An NSF GK12 Fellows Project

Technical Description

A Systemic PARTnership Aimed at Connecting University and School (SPARTACUS) project forms linkages among university researchers and their graduate students with the K-12 community.

Focusing on the hydrologic cycle in a coastal watershed it conveys the importance of interdisciplinary efforts in scientific and social issues, to K-12 students and teachers through the work of Graduate Fellows and their advisors.

Interrelationships of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and geology are examined in a local watershed using the Saco River Coastal Observing System (SaRCOS). It investigates how precipitation drives river discharge, which in turn, governs the coastal current, which influences coastal weather. While scientifically important, these phenomena are also tangible to students at all levels.

Broader Impacts

The project engages K-12 students and teachers in authentic inquiry-based learning in STEM-related disciplines. This unique project brings together school districts' needs, scientific research, and place-based inquiry education.

Graduate Fellows gain an understanding of the educational process, develop communication skills and team building, and appreciate the importance of K-12 outreach as a professional commitment. Place-based inquiry projects are used to engage students in active learning. Schools benefit from professional development of teachers, and enrichment of the learning environment, while society gains greater scientific and technical literacy.

The schools encompass rural to urban settings, including the two largest and most ethnically diverse districts in Maine. Replication of the model is highly viable since it is grounded in local environs and research, effectively connecting the community, school and university.

Collaborating Partners

Principal Investigator

Stephan I. Zeeman, PhD
Department of Marine Sciences
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Co-Principal Investigators

Susan Hillman, PhD
Department of Education
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Charles Tilburg, PhD
Department of Marine Sciences
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Faculty Participants

Department of Biological Sciences: Kristin Burkholder, A. Christine Brown,  Ursula S. R. Roese, Steven Travis, Greg Zogg.

Department of Chemistry and Physics: Jerome Mullin.

Department of Education: Susan Hillman.

Department of Environmental Studies: Pamela Morgan, Noah Perlut

Department of Marine Sciences:  Anna Bass, Carrie Byron, Markus Frederich, Kathryn Ono, James Sulikowski, Charles Tilburg, Stephan Zeeman.

Department of Mathematics: Craig Tennenhouse

Participating School Districts

Biddeford School Department
(Biddeford, Maine)
Biddeford High School

Falmouth School Department
(Falmouth, Maine)
Falmouth High School

Regional School Unit No. 6
(Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Standish, and Frye Island, Maine)
Bonny Eagle High School
Buxton Community Elementary School

Regional School Unit No. 57
(Alfred, Limerick, Lyman, Newfield, Shapleigh, and Waterboro, Maine)
Massabesic Middle School

Regional School Unit No. 21
Arundel, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport, Maine

Portland Public Schools
(Portland Maine)
Lincoln Middle School

Regional School Unit No. 23
(Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Dayton, Maine)
Loranger Middle School
Saco Middle School