The innovative program partners volunteers with elementary school teachers to support students’ science investigations

Three teachers with clipboards pointing up towards the sky

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A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is helping bring locally relevant citizen science projects to New Hampshire elementary school students while increasing teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching science. The grant, secured in 2017, partners existing UNH Extension volunteers who have a background in science with elementary teachers through an innovative professional development model.

Teachers and volunteers first learn together through a workshop series led by the UNH Leitzel Center. Each teacher-volunteer team then designs and teaches a science project that is relevant to the school district’s curriculum and school site, aligning with the Next Generation Science Standards. Through Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), students engage in real-world, problem-based learning and investigate their schoolyard using the scientific process. They contribute valuable scientific data to a variety of established citizen science initiatives, ranging from Project FeederWatch to the NH Green Crab Project.

The 2021 NSF STEM for All Video Showcase: Learning from Research and Practice was held online May 11 - 18, 2021. This virtual event provided a platform for thousands of researchers, educators, higher education faculty, parents and anyone interested in STEM to view videos about federally funded projects. The public could leave comments, start discussions and vote for their favorite video (through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter).

The Schoolyard SITES video can be viewed at this link: Extension's video was recognized with a Facilitators’ Choice Award. Groups of facilitators were assigned to presentations and they selected 24 out of a total of 287 videos to receive a Facilitators' Choice Award, based on this rubric:

  • Creatively uses video to share work with a public audience
  • Provides an effective narrative which describes the problem that motivated the project
  • Effectively describes the intervention, innovation or research
  • Addresses the impact of the project (on participants, or educational practice or research and theory, or on other stakeholders) and how impact has been/will be measured

About the Grant

Grant # 1721133: Preparing Next Generation Scientists through Teacher and Extension Science Partnerships and Schoolyard Citizen Science Investigations in Elementary Schools

Principal Investigator: Lara Gengarelly, Science Literacy State Specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension and Affiliate Associate Professor with the UNH Leitzel Center

Co-Principal Investigators:

Erik Froburg, Education and Outreach Coordinator, UNH Leitzel Center

Sameer Honwad, Assistant Professor of Learning and Instruction, State University of New York at Buffalo

Malin Clyde, UNH Extension Community Volunteer State Specialist, Nature Groupie Project Manager

Senior Personnel:

Megan Glenn, UNH Extension STEM Docent Program Manager

Haley Andreozzi, UNH Extension Wildlife Outreach Program Manager

About the NSF STEM for All Video Showcase

Each year, the NSF Showcase hosts between 100-200 three-minute video presentations from federally funded projects that aim to improve STEM (Science, Math, Engineering, and Mathematics) and computer science education. During the seven days of this online event, Principal Investigators, practitioners, administrators, researchers, policy makers, industry and the public at large are encouraged to participate. All participants will be able to view the video presentations, post to the facilitated discussions related to each video and vote for the videos that are most effective in conveying the creative work being done. All videos and discussions will be archived for future access. In addition, all videos from this Showcase will be added to the collection in the STEM for All Multiplex after the online May event.

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STEM Education State Specialist
Extension State Specialist/Professor, Science Ed & Outreach
Phone: (603) 862-2995
Office: Leitzel Center, Parsons Hall Rm N117, Durham, NH 03824