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NURTURES Profile


NURTURES: Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science

Overview:

NURTURES (Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science) is creating an integrated system of science education for grades preschool through 3 (PK-3) in the Toledo, Ohio area. The University of Toledo (UT) Judith Herb College of Education and College of Engineering in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences at UT and Toledo Public Schools (TPS) along with supporting educational partners (Apple Tree Nursery School, the East Toledo Family Center Day Care, the Toledo Day Nursery, Olivet Nursery, Fairgreen Nursery, the Toledo Catholic Schools, informal science partners (UT Ritter Planetarium, Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, Toledo Metropark System, Toledo Botanical Gardens, Toledo Grows, Lourdes College Nature Laboratory, and the Challenger Learning Center) and community resources (YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Lucas County Library, and WGTE Public Broadcasting Station) are working to transform the way in which PK-3 science is taught through the development and implementation of a complementary science education learning model that combines inquiry and learning, formal and informal education, teachers and parents, schools and the community, in a comprehensive effort to improve science subject interest and science achievement.


Primary objectives include: increased student interest and achievement in science, increased PK-3 teachers' knowledge of science pedagogy and science standards, increased parent involvement in in-school and out-of-school educational activities, a replicable complementary science education learning model, and increased state, district and school policies supporting PK-3 science education and parent involvement. The project includes summer institutes, academic year support for teachers, and parent support. University faculty, master PK-3 teachers, and informal science educators are developing a summer institute to provide professional development in challenging inquiry-based, age appropriate science instruction integrated with reading and math and professional development and practice in engaging families in formal and informal education. Teacher participants create their own lessons that include family learning activities. Formal and family science learning are augmented by annual community science events hosted by the informal science partners and linked to the TPS science curriculum and Ohio Content Standards. The project is providing science education professional development to 495 PK-3 teachers and their principals or directors working in at least 50 community-based early care and education programs and 300 K-3 classrooms.


NURTURES is investigating the feasibility of the complementary science learning model in a mid-sized urban location as well as how complementary learning might affect student achievement, curiosity, and interest in science. It is examining the impact of the scientists' and engineers' involvement on PK-3 science teaching and learning - an area where little research has been conducted. It is also determining the types of supports needed to ensure that PK-3 teachers implement inquiry-based science as well as the supports needed to encourage parents to make use of family science activities. The results of these investigations will be a stimulating educational environment for young children that nurtures their natural curiosity to learn science and to continue to study science.