Who we are

We began in 2010 as the Maine Data Literacy Project — a small group of scientists, education researchers, and educators from the University of Maine, the Schoodic Institute, and a handful of middle and high schools in Maine. We observed how students graph and reason about data, and identified key challenges to building data literacy in science and math classrooms. We developed and piloted teaching resources and strategies, many of which are shared in the Classroom link on this website.

Today we continue to engage individually and collectively with teachers and students, and have joined efforts with other advocates for data literacy, including Tuva, education and research units at The University of Maine and Rutgers University, Schoodic Institute, Cary Institute, MDI Biological Laboratory, and others. We work together to bring data literacy tools and skills to middle, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, and pre-service and in-service science and math teachers.

Why we made this website

Because data literacy is so interdisciplinary, students often miss opportunities to learn to synthesize all of the skills involved. Many teachers are not prepared in the full spectrum of data literacy skills. We wanted to create a gathering place where teachers from all disciplines can access the fruits of our collective work, and share experiences and ideas about building data literacy throughout curriculum.

Many of the materials here were originally posted on the Acadia Learning participatoryscience.org website, which no longer exists, so we have moved them here. The new Partners in Data Literacy website is developed with classroom teachers in mind, but anyone who is interested in learning how to turn data into evidence will benefit from the resources provided, including citizen scientists and educators teaching in informal settings.


Molly Schauffler is a former is a former paleoecologist and high school science teacher, and is currently an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maine in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, the Climate Change Institute, and the Center for Research in STEM Education. She consults part-time with Tuva as a science and data literacy specialist. Molly was a Co-PI on the Maine Data Literacy Project with Bill Zoellick and Sarah Nelson.

Sarah Nelson is the Director of the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program and Associate Research Professor in watershed biogeochemistry in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. She is also a member of the RiSE (Research in STEM education) faculty. Her research focuses on understanding the effects of atmospheric pollution and climate change on forests, foodwebs, and freshwaters in remote and protected ecosystems. One of her signature programs is the Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP), which engages citizen scientists in collection of dragonfly larvae for mercury analysis in national parks, allowing for national-scale assessment of this neurotoxic pollutant. For about a decade, she has worked with high school teachers and Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in a series of projects focused on teacher professional development regarding mercury in watersheds, snowpack and climate, and data literacy.

Bill Zoellick is the Education Research Director at Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. He began thinking about data literacy around a decade ago when working with Molly and Sarah on a project intended to help students learn about interactions within ecological systems. When they found that students could not create meaningful graphs to explore relationships, Molly, Sarah and Bill realized that it was time to switch gears and help students and teachers get better at exploring data visually. Bill’s recent work has focused on science and data literacy at the whole community level, where students and schools can serve as contributors to a community’s overall ability to use data to address environmental and health issues.

Kristin Hunter-Thomson is a former fisheries conservation biologist and middle and high school science teacher. She has worked in science and science education for over 15 years in various locations around the U.S. and abroad. Currently, she runs Dataspire Education & Evaluation LLC to facilitate data and science education professional development for teachers in grades 3-16, develop data-focused educational resources, and evaluate STEM educational programs. Also, Kristin is a Visiting Assistant Research Professor at Rutgers University, consults part-time with Tuva as a science and data literacy specialist and professional development consultant, and writes the Data Literacy 101 articles for the Interdisciplinary Ideas column in NSTA’s Science Scope.

Franziska Peterson is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Maine in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Center for Research in STEM Education. Her research centers on quantitative reasoning and mathematical literacy in interdisciplinary contexts. Franzi collaborates with faculty from the UMaine RiSE Center on several education research projects, including an NSF EPSCoR Track II grant (INSPIRES), which connects teachers and students to locally relevant research and datasets and investigates what knowledge teachers need to support students in developing quantitative reasoning skills.