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  1. Dr. Lauren Birney
  2. http://www.stemccers.com/
  3. Assistant Professor of STEM Education
  5. Pace University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Billion Oyster Project
  1. Joyce Kong
  2. Adjunct Professor
  4. Pace University

Curriculum and Community Enterprise for the Restoration of New York Harbor wi...

NSF Awards: 1440869

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Undergraduate, Graduate

Research consistently shows that children who have opportunities to actively investigate natural settings and engage in problem-based learning greatly benefit from the experiences. They gain skills, interests, knowledge, aspirations, and motivation to learn more. But how can we provide these rich opportunities in densely populated urban areas where resources and access to natural areas are limited? This project will develop and test a model of curriculum and community enterprise to address that issue within the nation's largest urban school system. Middle school students will study New York harbor and the extensive watershed that empties into it, and they will conduct field research in support of restoring native oyster habitats. The project builds on the existing Billion Oyster Project, and will be implemented by a broad partnership of institutions and community resources, including Pace University, the New York City Department of Education, the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the New York Academy of Sciences, the New York Harbor Foundation, the New York Aquarium, and others. The project focuses on an important concept in the geological, environmental, and biological sciences that typically receives inadequate attention in schools: watersheds. This project builds on and extends the Billion Oyster Project of the New York Harbor School. The project model includes five interrelated components: A teacher education curriculum, a student learning curriculum, a digital platform for project resources, an aquarium exhibit, and an afterschool STEM mentoring program. It targets middle-school students in low-income neighborhoods with high populations of English language learners and students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields and education pathways. The project will directly involve over forty schools, eighty teachers, and 8,640 students over a period of three years. A quasi-experimental, mixed-methods research plan will be used to assess the individual and collective effectiveness of the five project components. Regression analyses will be used to identify effective program aspects and assess the individual effectiveness of participation in various combinations of the five program components. Social network mapping will be used to further asses the overall "curriculum plus community" model.


Keywords; Environmental Restoration, Citizen Science, Inquiry based Learning, Educational Technology, Collaborative Learning Models

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Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase (10 posts)
  • Icon for: Daniel Damelin

    Daniel Damelin

    Senior Scientist
    May 14, 2018 | 02:38 p.m.

    This sounds like a great way to get students involved in doing science while learning science. What challenges do you have in pooling data from various groups and doing analysis?

    Where do you see this project in relation to other citizen science projects?

  • Icon for: Dr. Lauren Birney

    Dr. Lauren Birney

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor of STEM Education
    May 15, 2018 | 08:12 a.m.

    Thank you for comments and questions Daniel! The magnitude and vastness of the project sometimes can be challenge, but we have found systems and structures to put into place to overcome these challenges.  In terms of other projects, we have always seen this project as opportunity to share this model with other locales so that other researchers can replicate this model and create a structure that pertains their localized issues and species.

  • Icon for: Tiffany Wilson

    Tiffany Wilson

    May 15, 2018 | 10:59 a.m.

    Hi Dr. Birney,

    Does CCE-RS provide all necessary resources for implementing the curriculum at the schools? Is the curriculum a science unit or is it a year-round series of activities embedded throughout? What percentage of teachers consistently report in using the online platform? In our project, we face challenges with consistent reporting, but we don't yet have an online platform specific to our project. 

    Your program sounds like a great way to expose kids to a real-life environmental problem, get their hands in the water and get them actively involved in the process of restoration!


  • Icon for: Dr. Lauren Birney

    Dr. Lauren Birney

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor of STEM Education
    May 16, 2018 | 07:28 a.m.

    Thank you Tiffany! Yes the activities are year round and embedded throughout the school year. All the teachers participate in the Digital Platform as well as the students!  They love the field science - it is incredibly intriguing to young middle school students! :) Thanks for checking in with us!

  • Icon for: Carrie Willis

    Carrie Willis

    Technology Director and Teacher
    May 15, 2018 | 06:25 p.m.

    I love the term "citizen scientist." This is an amazing opportunity for students in your area. How are the the schools/students selected to participate in the program? Is it something that the teachers have to opt into or apply? How has the involvement been so far? 

  • Icon for: Dr. Lauren Birney

    Dr. Lauren Birney

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor of STEM Education
    May 16, 2018 | 07:26 a.m.

    thanks Carrie ! Yes a very exciting opportunity - the project is open to all schools in the NYCDOE.  Yes teachers apply annually. We currently have 84 teaching fellows and 128 schools participating!  :)

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Carrie Willis
  • Icon for: James Diamond

    James Diamond

    Research Scientist
    May 17, 2018 | 12:24 p.m.

    Hi Lauren and team—

    I love this project. "Oyster gardens" is one of the most fantastic ideas I've heard in a while, and I think we all need one. This is probably thinking ahead to your next project, but I can imagine your students extending what they're learning here into all sorts of other projects in marine and environmental engineering (E.g., what are the similarities and differences between the role that oysters play in places like the Harbor and on reefs in other areas? Or, connecting to bioremediation projects.)

    This is very exciting work.

  • Icon for: Dr. Lauren Birney

    Dr. Lauren Birney

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor of STEM Education
    May 17, 2018 | 01:13 p.m.

    Dear James - thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words!  YES!!!absolutely we focus on these idea and concepts while broadening their analytical skills. We also focus on providing students with a preview into the STEM industry careers.  The larger project also has established partnerships with reef restoration and shell recycling efforts here in New York City!  Thank you for taking the time to comment ! :)

  • Icon for: Jim Hammerman

    Jim Hammerman

    May 19, 2018 | 11:46 a.m.

    This is very exciting work. I especially like the combination and connection of different kinds of supports for teachers and students to connect to real research and community action. Hands on activities that are part of doing real science, especially when they connect to issues in the community that matter can really make a difference. Sounds like your research plan is also pretty rigorous. What are your primary outcome measures?

  • Icon for: Dr. Lauren Birney

    Dr. Lauren Birney

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor of STEM Education
    May 21, 2018 | 07:56 a.m.

    good morning Jim ! Thank you for visiting our video and project as well as your inspiring comments! It certainly is a robust project ! The project seeks to increase the number of students and teachers interested in STEM fields.  Additionally, we are looking to make this partnership model a replicable model throughout the United States and globally! Have a wonderful day and thank you again !

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.