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NSF Grant to Promote Scientific Research Activities in Schools

By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Students and teachers will have the chance to engage in their own hands-on scientific research, thanks to a new five-year, $7.3 million "citizen science" initiative, led by North Carolina State University, from the National Science Foundation.

The university plans on recruiting 10,000 science teachers from around the world to engage in the program. Teachers can register online to be a part of the initiative.

"A key overall goal is to develop teaching tools that can be used anywhere," said Rob Dunn, an associate professor of biology at N.C. State and principal investigator of the NSF grant, in a press release. 

The NSF-funded program will set up four labs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences during the first year, where fellows in the Kenan Program, which offers training and leadership development to teachers, will develop lessons based on a variety of research projects with the help of scientists. Once they are completed in the summer of 2014, seven North Carolina districts will incorporate these instructional units into their curriculum, tracking the impact on students' academic achievement.

Also participating in the initiative is N.C. State's Friday Institute, focused on educational innovation, in its college of education. The Friday Institute will determine how to best scale up the project to reach more school systems.

Each year, an additional district will be added to the program. The instructional units will also be made available online throughout its run, for interested teachers to take advantage.

This is just the latest grant focused on drawing interest in and fueling STEM education activities. Motorola Solutions Inc. recently announced $4.4 million in grants for STEM education in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Department of Defense also recently announced that it would provide nearly $20 million in grants to public schools serving military children in order to help increase STEM-focused opportunities.

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