Erica will be presenting a poster at the 2016 Science of Team Science (SciTS) conference in Phoenix, AZ.
Demand for job skills in scientific and technological fields continues to rise; however, the number of students entering higher education STEM-C pathways is low. Thus, employment opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Computer Sciences (STEM-C) are swiftly outpacing supply of qualified applicants. New models for increasing students’ interest, efficacy, and intentions to pursue STEM-C careers are being designed and tested. One multi-faceted approach currently being developed and refined is the Curriculum + Community Enterprise Model for Restoration Sciences, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The partners are: Pace University, Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, New York Harbor Foundation, New York Academy of Sciences, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, New York City Department of Education, New York Aquarium, The River Project, and Good Shepherd Services. Extensive collaboration efforts are underway to develop and implement a sustainable project-based learning curriculum for urban middle school students. Project-based science (PBS) emphasizes reforming pedagogy to motivate students to learn through inquiry and finding solutions to real world problems. Activities designed around Bybee’s 5 E Model encourage students to construct meaningful understandings instead of memorizing facts. The goal is to enhance STEM-C education by engaging participants in long term restoration ecology and environmental monitoring projects. Partners will develop a replicable model for other restoration projects as suited to local environmental conditions surrounding other public schools. The model has five programmatic pillars: 1) Teacher Training Continuing Education Program in implementing PBS lesson plans and activities; 2) Student curriculum of STEM-C lesson plans conducting authentic environmental fieldwork; 3) Digital platform archiving lesson plans with a mobile application for students’ data entry and citizen science observations; 4) Afterschool program with doctoral students mentoring middle school students using hands-on environmental science activities; 5) Community exhibits with wet-lab education at local marine science institutions. This large scale training and teaching initiative teams scientists with educators and practitioners in order to produce and disseminate a new model for curriculum development through community engagement. As teams enter their second year of partnership, members have expressed they are already beginning to achieve synergy in the lessons, activities, and materials their collaborative efforts are producing.