Since 2006 LREC has partnered with area schools to create after-school and summer learning opportunities that engage kids with the local community. Currently, we run two programs funded by the National Science Foundation. Both integrate place based education with cutting edge technologies. In the process, the youth participants learn more about their neighborhood while they develop valuable science, technology, and math skills. Teachers hired to run these programs at our partner schools deepen their own practice as they lead rich investigations and gain experience with new tools they can bring back into their regular teaching duties.
Local Investigations of Natural Science started with the University City, Missouri school district and rapidly expanded to other schools in the area. Through after-school and summer programs, students in grades 4–8 have engaged in projects such as tracking wildlife migration through the community, measuring the ecological benefits of urban trees, and designing original “augmented reality” games using software developed by MIT. Projects at each school can be found at that school’s LIONS page:
Building on the successes of LIONS, the Missouri Botanical Garden and MIT extended the partnership begun with LIONS to create more advanced learning opportunities for middle school students. Schools in the St. Louis and Boston areas are working with augmented reality games, geographic information system (GIS) software, and service learning projects to investigate and make a difference in their local community. Information about each school’s participation is coming soon.
LREC’s after-school programs are supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 0639638 and 0833663.