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Education through engagement: community science in the classroom

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Back-to-school is an exciting time, whether for elementary-school students or PhD candidates. As classes across the nation start up this month – some in-person, some virtual – we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the relationship between our classrooms and our communities.

With issues like health and climate top of mind in many places, community science offers a great framework for students to learn while contributing to the greater good.  It’s also an excellent way to demonstrate that hands-on research can have tangible impacts in the places where students live and study, fostering a lifelong appreciation for science.

Here are some of our favorite examples of the many (many!) ways students can engage with community science: 

  • Students from Louisiana State University won second prize in a highly competitive environmental design competition for their work with New Orleans’ lower 9th ward neighborhood
  • Elementary students in San Diego worked with scientists to assess trash in their neighborhood creek
  • Fourth-graders in New Orleans created a picture book highlighting a highway’s impacts on their neighborhood
  • University of Illinois Chicago students helped investigate urban flooding and environmental justice issues in their region
  • A project in Flint, Michigan focuses on enhancing a community hub for a generation of young people growing up amid a devastating water crisis
  • Students serving as interns and volunteers have reflected on how community science enhanced their experience in graduate school and medical school

Interested in bringing community science to your classroom, but not sure where to start? We can help! 

Haley McKey editor

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