Gospodarek’s winning project, “Hometown Ecology,” takes a multi-faceted approach to teaching ecology that will connect students to their environment through hands-on learning. The goal of the project is to help students become vested members of their environment by investigating, analyzing and exploring local ecosystems. The project will link activities through math, science and social studies and provide an opportunity for students to connect with local scientists. Facets of the project will include studying tree diversity and abundance, measuring water quality and identifying invasive species. In studying tree diversity and abundance, students will use the same scientific tools and methods the Maine Forest Service utilizes to determine the health of a wooded area. Students will use special kits to measure water quality along with macro-invertebrates as organism indicators for stream health. Students will also study the effects invasive creatures have on our local habitat. Gospodarek, who lives in Gorham, hopes learning about the environment on multiple levels will help her students understand and relate to the environment as a whole.