Nuestra Tierra Dinamica: Global Climate Change STEM Education Fostering Environmental Stewardship

Marina LaGrave

(OpEPA/) Organization for Environmental Education and Protection on for Environmental Education

The proposing team is comprised by OpEPA USA (Organization for Environmental Education and Protection 501©3) and Boulder based CLACE (Latin-American Center for Arts, Education and Science) in partnership with the Boulder Valley and Saint Vrain Valley School districts in Boulder County of Colorado. We are determined to educate middle school children about global climate change through joy of learning, environmental stewardship and the wonder of scientific discovery. Our curriculum involves important elements of renewable energy, sustainability, cultural background and story telling that help establish meaningful connections within themselves, their ancestors and the environment. Our project leverages two successful pilot activities that provide science-rich after school programs that enhance formal school performance. Our approach employs culturally-relevant, bilingual scientific investigations and digital storytelling experiences for youth grades k-9, serving high need student populations at schools where the majority of students are English-language learners and free lunch recipients. The proposed project builds on existing relationships established between scientific research organizations in the Front Range and high needs schools that are excited to provide extended day science enrichment opportunities for their students.

We see the bilingual component of our project to be critical to the success of the educational experience- not because the students have difficulty in English, but because our approach both honors their cultural heritage and enables us to engage their parents and families in science programming, ultimately creating strong parental and familial support for these students and encouraging their continued interest and success in STEM learning activities. Our project will partner with NASA funded programs, including GCCE grantees at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who have through teacher professional development programming, developed climate change education resources for elementary and middle school students. This partnership will support our project in several ways: through providing access to an on-line community of practice and coursework for participating teachers in our programs (both for-credit and CEUs are available), though sharing and adoption of student action and service learning practices that is a focus of the UNL professional development coursework, and by providing high quality, vetted inquiry science education activities that we will be translating into Spanish for dissemination nationally throughout the GCCE network.

Project outcomes include: creation and translation of more than 100 bilingual lesson plans and student/family worksheets and handouts emphasizing climate change-related STEM topics, design, testing and evaluation of an after school science enrichment pilot program for Hispanic students that can be scaled nationally, delivery of 3 cr. hour graduate level professional development coursework in climate change science for a minimum of thirty elementary and middle school teachers, and a weekly after school science enrichment program for elementary and middle school students, serving a minimum of 450 students annually for two years. The ultimate outcome of these activities will be creation of climate change aware and resilient Hispanic communities in the Front Range, an increase in participation of diverse audiences in STEM disciplines, and ultimately, the development of sustainable community practices in a dynamically changing climate.

Funding agency NASA

Award Numbers NNX11AM50A

Selection Year:

Award Period:
9/1/2011 - 3/31/2014