ECO Classroom Teachers Return from Environmental Field Work in Costa Rica Re-energized for Science Instruction

9/15/2013

Northrop Grumman Foundation, Conservation International teacher development program completes second session with instructors from California, Texas, Mississippi and Illinois

Arlington, Virginia, U.S. – Middle and high school science teachers from across the United States have returned from the second ECO Classroom session - a unique and innovative professional development program that provides hands-on environmental experiences instructors can bring back to their classrooms. The Northrop Grumman Foundation, in collaboration with Conservation International, created the program to help teachers inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and become our next generation of environmental scientists.

 
In July, teachers from Mississippi, Texas, California and Illinois traveled to Costa Rica. While there, they spent 10 days at Conservation International’s 
Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network’s Volcan Barva site at La Selva Biological Station and Braulio Carillo National Park. At La Selva they conducted group projects collecting data on tropical biodiversity, which they turned into lessons to share with their students back home. 

 
Teachers also visited coffee and banana plantations, learned about the extensive plant diversity and botanical records of the region, rafted the local Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo rivers and observed monkeys, peccaries, toucans and a host of other tropical species. 

 
Chris Mihealsick, a teacher from Westwood High School in Austin, Texas, said, “We had the amazing opportunity to learn the TEAM protocol for measuring vegetation cover in a tropical rainforest. We then got to work on our individual research project comparing the vegetation, and therefore carbon sequestration, of old-growth versus secondary forest.”

 
“Understanding how forests store carbon is crucial to students’ understanding of climate change,” said Morgan Cottle, project manager at Conservation International and co-leader of ECO Classroom. “By learning the TEAM protocol for monitoring vegetation and carbon storage, teachers can show their students how scientists conduct research to learn more about climate change.”

 
During the 2012-2013 school year, teachers from the inaugural ECO Classroom parlayed their experiences into lessons – increasing the percentage of students collecting field data by 63 percent. Additionally, their travel-inspired lessons, stories and photos were valuable contributions to the first group’s teaching this past year. Teachers created dozens of lessons about their experiences in Costa Rica – opening up their students’ worldview in ways that may not have been possible without ECO Classroom.

 
The application period for the 2014 ECO classroom professional development trip will open in October 2013. To learn more, or apply to participate, visit: www.northropgrumman.com/ecoclassroom.

 
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Conservation International: Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International (CI) empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI has headquarters in the Washington D.C. area, and more than 800 employees working in 29 countries on six continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org​ , or on Facebook or Twitter.

 
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to expanding and enhancing the pipeline of diverse, talented STEM students globally. They provide funding to STEM programs that span from preschool to high school and through collegiate levels, with a major emphasis on middle school students and teachers. Northrop Grumman employees actively volunteer in support of many STEM organizations in their communities and internationally. In 2012, Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation continued outreach efforts by contributing approximately $22.8 million to diverse STEM-related groups such as the Air Force Association (CyberPatriot), Conservation International (ECO Classroom), the REC Foundation (Vex Robotics) and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

 
The Northrop Grumman Foundation supports diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information, please visit www.northropgrumman.com/foundation.