A Classroom Under the Canopy: U.S. Science Teachers Invited to Apply for Unique Program to Enhance Skills through Biological Fieldwork


Northrop Grumman Foundation and Conservation International’s ECO Classroom Program now Accepting Applications for 2013 Costa Rica Expedition

​Arlington and Falls Church, Va. – In an ongoing effort to help seed the next generation of scientists, sponsors of a teacher professional development program known as “ECO Classroom” announced today that they are accepting applications for the 2013 program and extending the entry deadline to March 31, 2013. Applicants will be chosen during a competitive selection process that will result in invitations to four teams made up of four teachers, who will learn from scientists doing field work in a tropical forest this summer in Costa Rica during an all-expenses-paid trip. 

As a unique and innovative nationwide professional development program designed for public middle and high school science teachers, ECO Classroom was created by the Northrop Grumman Foundation in collaboration with the nonprofit development organization, Conservation International (CI), as a means to offer teachers supplemental tools and real-world experiences in nature that can help to inspire students to pursue science and technical careers. 

“We were thrilled with the first class of ECO Classroom educators and look forward to the 2013 program,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.  “We look to build on last year’s success by expanding professional development opportunities for educators and making real-world science connections with students in their classrooms.”

The ECO Classroom program brings groups of public school teachers – from all over the United States –to CI’s Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network (http://www.teamnetwork.org/en/about) Volcan Barva site in La Selva Biological Station and Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica, where they  participate in field data collection on plant and animal biodiversity, climate and land use using TEAM scientific protocols. 

"What better way to inspire teachers to be passionate about ecology and environmental science than to take them to a tropical forest?” asked Sandy Andelman, Senior Vice President of Conservation International. “Building on last year's success, we're excited to bring our second team of teachers to the site in Costa Rica to become part of the TEAM group, using cutting edge technology to study how climate change is affecting tropical forests," she added.

It is widely acknowledged among educators and policymakers that insufficient numbers of students are entering into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. One way to address this issue and emphasize environmental stewardship is to motivate educators to engage students in the sciences and to bring unique learning opportunities into their classrooms with real-world curricula and hands-on experiences, such as ECO Classroom’s trip to Costa Rica.

During last year’s inaugural, two-week expedition in July, 16 ECO Classroom teachers from across the United States conducted group projects in the field and created lessons based on their projects dealing with land use, forest carbon sequestration, Geographic Information System mapping and natural resource management using TEAM scientific protocols. They then returned to their schools with an in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between biodiversity, climate change and human activities and were better equipped with new techniques and resources to enhance their classroom teaching.  

"There is nothing like personal experiences to help to improve the teaching of your subject," said Beth Platt, a science teacher from Smithtown, NY, who was part of ECO Classroom 2012. “I also developed a wonderful support group with colleagues in other parts of the country with whom I can share ideas and lesson plans. I think that all of the participants have grown as educators and as scientists, and both of these things will benefit our students for years to come."

Applications are now being accepted for the next trip taking place this summer.  To learn more about, or to apply to participate visit ECO Classroom.

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Click link below to access photos from ECO Classroom’s 2012 inaugural trip to Costa Rica:


About the organizations:
Conservation International (CI) - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, DC area and employs more than 800 staff in nearly 30 countries on four continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

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​.