NC State lands $7.3M 'Citizen Science' grant to boost research in schools
Posted September 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State University is leading a five-year, $7.3 million “citizen science” initiative to give science teachers and students the opportunity to engage in meaningful scientific research while improving their educational success.
“We will have students making new scientific discoveries, improve the learning outcomes of those students, get teachers excited about the work and find ways to scale this up for use across the country and beyond,” said Rob Dunn, an associate professor of biology at N.C. State and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation grant.
Other groups involved in the program include: N.C. State’s Kenan Fellows Program, which offers training and development to teachers; N.C. State’s Friday Institute in the College of Education, which focuses on educational innovation; the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and school districts from across North Carolina. In the future, researchers hope for the project to become a worldwide program.
“One of the first things we want to do as early as possible is recruit 10,000 science teachers from anywhere in the world to register to be part of the program,” Dunn says. “A key overall goal is to develop teaching tools that can be used anywhere.”
In the first year, the NSF-funded program will set up four labs at the science museum. Teachers with the Kenan fellowship will work with scientists to develop course modules that revolve around original research projects. Initial projects will examine urban wildlife, microbial life found in soil and paleontology, among others.
Course modules should be completed by the end of summer 2014 and will then be incorporated into middle school science classrooms in seven North Carolina school systems. These classes will be closely tracked to determine the modules’ impact on academic achievement and other outcomes. More school systems will be added to the program each year. Throughout the program, modules will become available online for use by any interested teacher.