Friday, August 6, 2010

PS 100-87: Schoolyard biology: Enhancing connections between science and education communities

Relena R. Ribbons, Harvard Forest and Israel Del Toro, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Science outreach offers a rich opportunity for teachers, students, and scientists. This project aims to make education outreach accessible to all levels of participation, from K-12 teachers and students to scientific professionals. The main goal of this project is to create a website where scientists from all over the U.S. can interact with teachers in their region to create or implement a variety of lesson plans, focusing on projects which students can conduct in their own backyards. Our mission statement is: “To promote exploring, investigating, and observing the natural world, by focusing on curricula that will enhance student connections with the biota found in their backyards and playgrounds. We aim to serve as the medium between the scientific and the K-12 education communities. Specifically, we seek to facilitate the collaboration and exchange of ideas between all levels of the educational system, and establish a network where students of all levels can participate in true scientific inquiry and contribute to research coordinated by their educators and scientific professionals.”


A growing list of lesson plans is currently available online, specifically focusing on common insects and plants found in a schoolyard environment. Students and teachers who use these lesson plans can pair up with scientists in their region to receive expert insights about the study organisms. Project data collected by students and teachers will be compiled across schools and published online and thus available to the collaborating scientists for further analysis. SchoolyardBiology will facilitate discussion, transfer of knowledge, and collaboration amongst teachers and scientists, with the common goal of increasing scientific awareness and interest.