Lake Erie Center

NSF GK-12 Homepage

 gk-12 group 2010

"Building an Environmental Science Learning Community 
                     at the 
Land-Lake Ecosystem Interface" 
 

      Our GK-12 program partners advanced graduate students in STEM disciplines at the University of Toledo with high school teachers and their students to build an Environmental Science Leaning Community at the land-lake ecosystem interface. Partners include federal, state, and local environmental agencies. Our objectives are to: 1) Generate student enthusiasm for STEM careers by engaging them in hands-on research into environmental problems, 2) Exchange STEM knowledge and pedagogies between graduate students and high school teachers resulting in cutting-edge environmental science content and increased teaching and communication skills, and 3) Develop hands-on solutions to environmental problems along schoolyard stream ecosystems feeding the Great Lakes.
Grant Summary

Project Title: Graduate Teaching Fellows in STEM High School Education: An Environmental Science Learning Community at the Land-Lake Ecosystem Interface

Institution:  The University of Toledo

PI and Co-PIs:  C. Stepien (PI), C. Gruden, T. Bridgeman, R. Becker, K. Czajkowski

STEM faculty advisors and departments: 20 additional faculty from the Departments of Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Geography and Planning (in Geographic Information Systems, Cyberinfrastructure); including 3 International partners from University of Windsor.

Number of STEM graduate fellows per year:  8/year

Number of high school teachers working with the fellows per year:  8/year

Number of K-12 classes anticipated to be served per year:  40/year

Number of Schools and School District Partners:  7 schools, 4 districts

Target audience of the Project:  High School STEM, minority students, Grades 9-12

Setting:  Urban-suburban-rural gradient (Toledo, Sylvania, Ottawa Hills, Oregon)

NSF-supported STEM disciplines: Biological Sciences, Engineering, Geosciences

Project Summary:  Our proposed GK-12 program partners advanced graduate students in STEM disciplines at the University of Toledo with high school teachers and their students to build an Environmental Science Leaning Community at the land-lake ecosystem interface. Partners include federal, state, and local environmental agencies. Our objectives are to: 1) Generate student enthusiasm for STEM careers by engaging them in hands-on research into environmental problems, 2) Exchange STEM knowledge and pedagogies between graduate students and high school teachers resulting in cutting-edge environmental science content and increased teaching and communication skills, and 3) Develop hands-on solutions to environmental problems along schoolyard stream ecosystems feeding the Great Lakes.

Intellectual Merit: We will build our Environmental Science Leaning Community by linking graduate student watershed research projects with an existing high school Student Watershed Watch program. Projects will center on environmental study of urbanized and agricultural habitats to investigate multiple stressors and major ecological community change along a transect from the Oak Opening Savanna, through the Maumee River watershed, and into western Lake Erie. Graduate Fellows will exchange their STEM knowledge and research experience through high school classroom and field exercises to improve their teaching competence and develop communication, mentoring, and team-building skills. Teachers will gain professional development, enduring relationships, and experience in inquiry-based state-of-the-art science content. High School Students will develop their STEM skills, gaining greater interest in and understanding of the scientific method and potential for environmental science and engineering careers.

Broader Impacts: By building STEM skills, graduate fellows, teachers, and high school students will gain hands-on experience in the role of urban and agricultural influences on watersheds in the history, social development, and future vitality of the Great Lakes region; disseminated through our project website, presentations, and publications. Research on environmental problems is a real method through which students can give back to their own local communities, thereby helping to build an educational network focused on making our lifestyles more interactive with the natural environment. Our GK-12 program thus embraces the public scholarship philosophic concept of merging scientific research with civic responsibility to benefit the public and the community.

For the full grant project description (.pdf), click here.

Last Updated: 3/23/15