ESF’s Project SCIENCE Teaches Urban Children about Their Own Environment
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Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments
SYRACUSE, N.Y. Scores of middle-school students from the city of Syracuse learned about science and environmental education this summer through the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Project SCIENCE.
The program (Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments) teaches incoming seventh- and eighth-grade students about urban ecology and urban ecosystems that are relevant to their lives. That relevance is critical to cultivating and sustaining their interest in science during the middle school years and beyond.
Project SCIENCE involved the students in such activities as stream sampling, fly casting and tracking animals with radio telemetry. It also introduced them to the principles of conservation, urban planning and tree identification. The students learned at several locations around the Syracuse area, including Elmwood Park and the Onondaga Creek corridor, and they participated in service learning projects that promote environmental stewardship and environmental awareness.
The summer camp program consists of seven one-week sessions, with between 15 and 25 children in attendance each week. Each session includes at least one day on the ESF main campus. Instruction is provided by the ESF Science Corps, a group of ESF undergraduate and graduate students who act as role models for students. The Science Corps was established with support from a National Science Foundation grant.
ESF Outreach oversees the program. The college administers the program in partnership with several community-based and educational organizations, including the Syracuse City School District, Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Club, Spanish Action League, Syracuse City Parks and Recreation, and Onondaga Community College.