New York Sea Grant Receives $100,000 to Offer Watershed STEM Education in Niagara Falls School District

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By: Staff Reporter

New York Sea Grant Extension of Cornell University has received $100,000 in national funding through the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAEEE) to provide after-school watershed-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects for students at sites in the Niagara Falls School District.

New York Sea Grant will use the Watershed STEM Education Partnership funding to develop virtual after-school academic enrichment activities for students and professional development programming for teachers at Hyde Park Elementary School and Gaskill Preparatory Middle School. Both schools are designated 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), are located near Hyde Park Lake, and serve communities of need in terms of poverty and academic achievement.

New York Sea Grant will deliver the new programming in partnership with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The project aligns with ongoing restoration work underway by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to restore local shorelines to their native state and to improve water quality.

This New York Sea Grant project, named “Taking Root: A Meaningful Watershed Experience for Youth in Niagara Falls, New York,” will be conducted over a two-year period. The project will include native seedling plantings to improve local biodiversity and water quality related to the Niagara River, Gill Creek, and Cayuga Creek.

The project will also engage students and families with activities related to environmentally-themed children’s books.

“I am excited to work in partnership with dedicated environmental organizations and the Niagara Falls City School District to provide students with real-world STEM learning and connect them to restoration work in their own communities,” said Monica Miles, Ph.D., Coastal Literacy Specialist with New York Sea Grant’s office at the University at Buffalo.

With this grant, New York Sea Grant joins the eeBLUE collaborative, a $5 million, five-year partnership agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NAEEE to help create a more environmentally-literate society that has the knowledge, skills, and motivation to conserve natural resources and build more resilient communities nationwide. This collaborative supports the STEM education goals of NOAA and the U.S. Department of Education.

“New York Sea Grant is pleased to join this nationwide effort to provide academic enrichment opportunities that encourage environmental awareness and stewardship as well as generating awareness of STEM careers by students in underserved areas,” said New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Ph.D., J.D., an assistant director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, N.Y.

The eeBLUE programming developed by New York Sea Grant will draw on existing NOAA watershed education and professional training resources, and from New York’s Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange (NYGLEEE), a web-based resource created by New York Sea Grant in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The curriculum developed for elementary school age students will be available upon project completion through the NYGLEEE website and has the potential to reach K-12 schools throughout New York State.


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