INT 188 - Integrated Science Research and Career Exploration

Are you interested in STEM and hands-on research? Want to explore STEM career options and educational opportunities this summer in midcoast Maine? Build science skills, gain research experience or strengthen academic skills in preparation for college?

INT 188 is the class for you! Rising 11th–12th grade high school students can take this Early College course at the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast tuition free!*


This course meets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, August 1–August 18, from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

A symposium will be held on Friday, August 18, from 5–7 p.m., where students will share their research projects with the community. Students are expected to be present for all classes and the symposium.

The Hutchinson Center follows UMaine’s COVID safety protocols, updated here.

* This course is offered tuition-free for qualified high school students. Students who pay to attend high school in Maine will be charged a reduced Early College rate of $138.25/credit. This includes out-of-state and international students.


INT 188 is a four-week, three-credit environmental (biology or chemistry) science lab research college course taught at the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine for rising 11th–12th grade high school students.

This course involves field and laboratory-based data collection, data analysis and lecture in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, including participation in group-based directed research projects and career planning exercises, with guest lectures and daily activities centered on contemporary environmental issues and STEM innovations, and culminating in a student project-based research symposium (August 11, 2022) at the end of the course.

How do I sign up for this course?

Step 1

Apply through the ExplorEC portal (it’s easy, we promise!)

Step 2

Complete this form to help us match your experience in INT 188 to your interests. (Required)

Step 3

Relax! 😌 Your application will be reviewed within a week of submission, at which point we’ll be in touch.


Application Questions:

two sets of muddy white hands holding two crabs


  • Strengthen core skills needed to succeed in college science and technology courses.
  • Learn how to turn data into evidence using data from a variety of STEM topics, such as fuel efficiency, Maine wildlife, diseases, extreme weather events, fitness, health and nutrition, and environmental quality.
  • Raise career aspirations and self-confidence applying quantitative skills and critical thinking in inquiry.
  • Develop research skills investigating a real life question about cell development, marine or freshwater ecosystems, computer modeling or chemistry.

Additional benefits of participating in this course include:

  • Spend a significant amount of class time outside doing fieldwork
  • Gain hands-on experience in a real science lab
  • Low-student teacher ratio (6-8 students per section)
  • Address real-life environmental problems right here in Belfast, Maine!



Career planning is a big part of this course. Participants have the opportunity to explore different careers through completing virtual interviews with multiple professionals in STEM fields. You’ll have the opportunity to learn what skills are required in these STEM professions. 

Participating in this course will help you become familiar with the points of entry for various careers, enabling you to identify and map a college plan focused on science, technology, engineering or mathematics.  

Connecting with businesses and industries can have many benefits, including opportunities for mentoring, internships and employment. 


INT 188 contains two sections or research teams—Environmental Biology and Environmental Chemistry. Regardless of your section/team, you’ll spend the same amount of time outside collecting data and inside the science lab. You’ll be able to note your preference in your application. We’ll do our best to accommodate your interests but please be prepared to participate in either section as needed.

The Environmental Biology team will study how organisms respond when exposed to different physical, chemical, and/or biological environmental conditions such as changes in nutrients, salinity, temperature, carbon dioxide concentrations, microplastics, and predation levels. Possible investigations include measuring rates of growth, reproduction, feeding, or mortality in organisms such as algae, shellfish, zooplankton, or fish.

The Environmental Chemistry team will study compounds and molecules that are found in local environments, including contaminants in water, air, or soil, with a particular focus on the identification, origin, and biological uptake of microplastic pollutants found in local water bodies.


Historically, INT 188 students’ research topics are just as diverse and interesting as the students themselves (very diverse and interesting, in our opinion!). The Belfast/midcoast Maine area has all kinds of pressing environmental and ecological questions and issues to consider. Students select their research topics based on their own interests/passions, along with guidance from their instructors.

Here are some examples of past INT 188 research projects:

Question: How does exposure to doxycycline affect the hatching rate of zebrafish embryos?

Method: Three petri dishes of approximately 55 zebrafish embryos each were treated with two different doses of doxycycline and one was untreated as a control. Over seven days the embryos were examined five times for hatching rate, deformities and mortality rate.

Conclusion: The greater the concentration of doxycycline, the longer it took for the embryos to hatch. Mortality and spine curvature were no different in the two treatments and the control. 

Question: To what extent does elevated CO2 concentration affect the density of copepod populations?

Method: Collected plankton samples at two locations in the Belfast Estuary, calculated plankton density using award wheel and microscope, and grew sample populations under high and low CO2 conditions for four days to see how conditions affected pH and population density.

Conclusion: Copepod density was higher in the elevated CO2 chamber than in the control chamber and pH was inversely related to CO2 levels.



Is INT 188 appropriate for my child?

INT 188 is an ideal experience for students who like science and who are motivated to learn and explore options for STEM careers. The course is designed for students who may be unsure of their research skills or their general ability in science, but it is also for students who may already excel in science and are seeking an opportunity to focus on research skills and stretch their abilities in new ways. The teacher-to-student ratio is intentionally low so students can receive support tailored to their needs. 

Are there course prerequisites for taking the class?

There are no specific prerequisites other than students should be entering rising high school juniors or seniors. Ideally, they will have basic skills in high school algebra. Most importantly, students should be motivated to develop their science research, data literacy, and problem-solving skills and be interested in exploring STEM careers.  

If we already have something planned, could a student miss a class?

The class runs for four weeks. Every bit of class time is needed to build research and data skills, design and carry out the research projects, develop a career plan and prepare findings for sharing at the research symposium. Students are expected to attend every class and the research symposium.

Do we qualify for the tuition coverage?

To qualify for UMaine’s tuition-free Early College Program, high school students should have a B or better grade average, and have a recommendation from a guidance counselor.  Students who are currently seniors who will be graduating in June do not qualify for Early College tuition coverage, but they may qualify for financial aid if they are matriculating at the University of Maine in Fall 2022. 

Please visit the Early College website for more information about tuition options. 

How many college credits will students in INT 188 receive?

Students who successfully complete the course receive three elective college credits. Elective credits do not fulfill science or lab credit requirements for specific science degree programs at the University of Maine, but they do count as general elective credits towards an undergraduate degree. 

When does the class meet?

The class meets at the Hutchinson Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for four weeks (from July 18–August 11, 2022). On Thursday, August 11, from 5–7 p.m., all students will present the results of their research projects at a community symposium.

How do I register? Is there a deadline?

Applications are accepted until the course is full. If you have further questions about eligibility requirements or the application process, please contact; 207.581.8024.  If you have questions about the course content, please contact Christopher Tremblay, Hutchinson Center Science Program Coordinator; 607.379.1033.

Course Instructors & Administrators

photo of Susan Therio in front of green foliage/trees
Susan Therio (she/her)Susan Therio, University of Maine adjunct faculty member, supervises instruction and research in Environmental Chemistry during the INT 188 course. She holds a B.S. in chemistry from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse and an M.A. in chemistry from SUNY New Paltz. Prior to obtaining her professional teaching requirements, she was an industry chemist in environmental and hydrocolloid fields.
Dave Thomas (he/him)Dave Thomas, University of Maine adjunct faculty member, supervises instruction and research in Environmental Biology during the INT 188 course. He holds a B.S. in limnology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an M.S. in science education from Cornell University. He worked for four years as a research technician in northern Wisconsin and Michigan studying ecological changes as a result of whole-lake fertilization and fish manipulation experiments.
Chris Tremblay (he/him)Chris Tremblay coordinates science programming at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center and oversees the Center’s teaching laboratories. He is also a marine mammal research biologist at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, focusing on cetacean bioacoustics. Chris holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Maine’s School of Marine Science.