NSF Grant Connects Researchers with K-12 Students and Teachers
A new five-year, $2.65 million grant from the National Science Foundation will connect Michigan State University researchers with K-12 students and teachers from several rural districts in Michigan. The program is designed not just to boost STEM literacy among the K-12 participants, but also to help develop the researchers into better scientists by letting them work on their teaching and communications skills.
Focusing on inquiry-based science, with an emphasis on biofuels, the grant, according to MSU, will fund eight graduate fellowships per year, with as ninth funded by MSU itself. The students and researchers will work together through the Partnership for Science Literacy program out of the Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners, an MSU research station--one of 14 such stations--geared toward "fundamental and applied research in ecology and agriculture."
All told, students and teachers from 11 rural districts in Michigan will participate, including Comstock Public Schools, Delton Kellogg Schools, Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools, Gobles Public Schools, Gull Lake Community Schools, Harper Creek Community Schools, Lawton Community Schools, Martin Public Schools, Olivet Community Schools, Plainwell Community Schools, and Vicksburg Community Schools.
"This program will allow us to train graduate students to be better scientists by becoming better communicators and teachers," said Thomas Getty, project lead and professor of zoology at MSU, in a statement released last week. "By working with K-12 teachers and students, the fellows will learn to put their research into broader intellectual and social contexts. This will help them understand and communicate why their research matters to society in general, as well as to their academic peers."
According to information released by MSU, for more than 10 years the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research site at KBS has supported the science program. "The MSU LTER site is the only one in the 26-site national network to focus on agriculture. All the LTER sites study ecology and environmental biology to provide a better understanding of the ecology of both natural and managed systems."