The General Motors Corporation is presenting a $5,000.00 award to Carnegie’s BioEYES K-12 educational program on September 11, 2014, to deliver a two-week environmental curriculum, Your Watershed, Your Backyard. The program, established in 2008, is one of several BioEYES programs using live zebrafish in a hands-on approach to learning and focuses on local watersheds, pollution, and the Chesapeake Bay. The event includes other awardees and elected officials and will start at 11: 45 AM, at GM’s Baltimore Operations, 10301 Philadelphia Rd., White March, MD. Plant tours will follow.

Your Watershed, Your Backyard teaches students about their local streams so that they understand what they can do to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The program engages the students with the natural environment, instilling a connection and desire to care for it. Ninety middle school students from Baltimore City Public Schools will benefit from the award. Overall, 500 students from 8 schools participate per year.

“Many of our students have never been in the woods until they go through this program,” remarked Steven Farber, a Principal Investigator at the Carnegie Institution and cofounder of BioEYES. “They are excited to learn about ecology and biology outside of the traditional classroom setting. Excitement of discovery is the first step toward a career in the life sciences.”

The GM core support includes costs for classroom and field supplies, training for classroom teachers, travel to and from schools and field trips, and the educator's salary. Earth Force coordinates GM's GREEN program and the partnership with BioEYES. Additional partners include Trout Unlimited, Blue Water Baltimore, and The Parks & People Foundation. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is also a big supporter of Your Watershed, Your Backyard.

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A volunteer from GM helps students from Walter P. Carter Elementary School test a stream for macroinvertebrates during a Your Watershed, Your Backyard field trip in fall 2011. Image courtesy of Rob Vary.

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BioEYES is a grassroots effort and the brainchild of molecular biologist Steven Farber at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Embryology. It is a K-12 science education program. It provides outdoor and classroom-based learning through the use of live zebrafish. It incorporates teacher empowerment and provides professional development seminars and a co-teaching experience with trained university science consultants. To date, 81,000 students and 1,300 teachers have gone through the BioEYES programs in the U.S. and Australia.

BioEYES is currently located at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Notre Dame, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The program is entirely funded by grants and gifts. BioEYES Baltimore is now a joint effort with the Johns Hopkins School of Education. A complete list of sponsors can be found at the project’s website.