Baltimore, MD--Recent research shows that natural experiences in childhood boost creativity, stimulate learning, and improve behavior and health. Carnegie’s BioEYES educational program, in partnership with General Motors (GM), is capitalizing on this by sponsoring some 25–30 middle-school students from Guilford Elementary/Middle School to plant native shrubs for a wildlife habitat area at the White Marsh, MD, GM operations facility on April 25, 2013, in support of Earth Day. BioEYES partner Blue Water Baltimore is providing the shrubs for the project.
Blue Water Baltimore works with BioEYES kids to implement plantings, stream cleanups, and related “greening activities.” The Earth Day students had already participated in the BioEYES two-week environmental program, Your Watershed, Your Backyard (YWYB) in November 2012. The program was established in 2008 to teach students about local watersheds, pollution, and the Chesapeake Bay. More than 500 students and 9 teachers from 8 schools participate annually in the program (7 in the Baltimore City Public School system). As part of the curriculum, the students have to participate in a greening activity like the Earth Day event.
“All BioEYES students are given pre and post surveys to assess their understanding of the content of the program and their attitudes about science,” remarked BioEYES founder Steve Farber, a staff biologist at the Carnegie Institution. “In 2011 and 2012, the YWYB program saw significant increases on all seven questions that assess students’ knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay and watershed ecology. Overall, there was an average increase of nearly 30 %.”
Significant attitude changes occurred when students were asked the following:
• I consider myself a steward of the Chesapeake Bay watershed
• The health of the Chesapeake is important to me
• There are things I can do to improve water quality in streams, and
• Science is becoming more popular than it use to be
“A GM partnership program called Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) provides opportunities for young people to learn more about the watersheds they live in and to use their findings to create lasting solutions for pressing water quality issues,” stated BioEYES program manager Valerie Butler. “GREEN, and our partners at General Motors and Earth Force share a commitment to civic engagement, education, and the environment.”
This Earth Day event will take place at the General Motors Baltimore Operations facility, 10310 Philadelphia Road, White Marsh, MD 21162, from 8:30AM to 2:00PM . General Motors is a project partner and sponsor of BioEYES. GM staff also volunteer on YWYB field trips. BioEYES/GM partnership is coordinated by EarthForce through the GREEN program. Partner Blue Water Baltimore, YWYB BioEYES outreach educator Chandra Harvey and BioEYES program manager Valerie Butler serve on the Baltimore City Public School district’s Green Teaching Action Committee, charged with shaping environmental literacy for the school system.
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.
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.