Grant connects educators and volunteers to improve N.H. science education
Making connections is the foundation of good science, and a new National Science Foundation grant-funded program will connect UNH Cooperative Extension volunteers with New Hampshire educators to improve Granite State science education.
UNH Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Joan and James Leitzel Center and the UNH Education Department, has received a National Science Foundation Discovery Research PreK-12 (NSF DRK-12) grant to improve science education in New Hampshire’s schools by bringing together elementary school teachers and Cooperative Extension science volunteers for a community-based professional development partnership. The team is the first at UNH to receive a highly-competitive NSF DRK-12 grant.
Known as Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), the project connects elementary school teachers with Extension science volunteers in a partnership that improves educators’ confidence, science content knowledge and instructional practice. Together with an UNH interdisciplinary team of experts, teachers and volunteers will learn how to design and implement locally-relevant, community-based citizen science projects with elementary school students.
There is an increasing demand for K-12 professional development that focuses on integrating appropriate content and science practices into elementary classrooms. Schoolyard SITES will work with teachers in New Hampshire to address identified professional development needs that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) requirements.
The project team includes Lara Gengarelly, a UNH Cooperative Extension associate professor and specialist in science education and outreach; Malin Clyde, a UNH Cooperative Extension specialist in community volunteer development and program manager of Nature Groupie (formerly The Stewardship Network: New England); Erik Froburg, project director at the UNH Leitzel Center for STEM education; Sameer Honwad, an assistant professor of education at UNH; Haley Andreozzi, UNH Cooperative Extension’s wildlife outreach program coordinator; and Megan Glenn, volunteer coordinator for UNH Cooperative Extension’s STEM Docent program.
The Rochester School District is the first district to partner with the Schoolyard SITES team. “We are very excited to partner with UNH Cooperative Extension science volunteers to improve education in our schools. Our teachers will learn how to design and implement NGSS-aligned lessons through locally-relevant, community-based citizen science projects,” says Heidi Zollman, the Rochester School District’s curriculum, instruction and assessment coach.
Cooperative Extension science volunteers will come from programs such as Natural Resource Stewards, Marine Docents, Master Gardeners, Coastal Research Volunteers and others. Professional development workshops are expected to begin in the summer of 2018 and teachers and volunteers will collaborate over the course of a single school year.