$2.1mn NSF grant to Boston College's Urban Institute

Grant to develop urban environmental curriculum, texts and multimedia program.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $2.1 million grant to an group of Boston College faculty to develop an urban environmental science curriculum, text book and multimedia system for use in America's urban high schools, a press release from the college announces.

Fifty high school science teachers and 5000 students will be involved in the project, which includes Pearson Education as a corporate partner, who will serve to publish and sustain the project after the grant is complete.

The curriculum is being crafted by the Center for Applied Special Technology in Wakefield, Mass.

"During the three years of this grant, the team will build on the theme of urban field-based science education pioneered by the Urban Ecology Institute," said Urban Ecology Institute science director Prof. Eric Strauss. "The team is particularly excited about the opportunity to bring the fruits of this interdisciplinary Boston College partnership, which has transformed science education in Boston, to the national scale," said Strauss.
The mission of the BC Urban Ecology Institute is to promote the stewardship of healthy urban ecosystems by improving science and civic education for middle and high school youth and by working with urban communities to protect and transform natural resources. The Institute consists of are scientists, educators and attorneys who research urban ecosystems, provide information to urban residents and policymakers, and work with the public schools to protect and restore urban natural resources. The Urban Ecology Institute currently manages three key programs: Urban Ecology Field Studies: UEI studies engage students from urban public schools in the scientific process by combining the immediate relevancy of urban backyards with basic scientific research. Built upon the educational process of inquiry, each study is framed around the question: What is the Health of Boston's Urban Ecosystem? In the end, this synthesis of science, education and urban ecosystems creates interesting, relevant studies for students to conduct. In a partnership with the BC Environmental Studies Program, the UEI sponsors an ongoing study on the behavior of eastern coyotes in suburban areas including Revere, Newton and Barnstable, Mass. The study has provided a wealth of previously unknown information about how these creatures move, socialize and live peacefully in ecosystems dominated by humans. The Natural Cities Program: The Natural Cities Program is conducting the first inventory of the urban ecosystem surrounding Boston – its trees, rivers, wildlife and open spaces – to help urban residents and policymakers better understand and protect the area's threatened natural resources. Community Forest Partnership: A healthy urban forest can transform neglected communities into vibrant communities, serve as a catalyst for restoring community social networks, provide significant environmental and public health benefits, and provide open spaces for recreation. The Community Forest Partnership provides opportunities for residents and community organizations in and around Boston to take advantage of these benefits by serving as stewards of their urban forest.

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