This week, the Social Development Lab at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) kicks off a new community service learning initiative. This new project partners with eighth grade classes at the Community Public Charter School in Albemarle County, the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center at Darden Towe Park, and the Environmental Science Department at UVA.
“We are helping students learn about environmental science through participation in a service learning project” explains Eileen Merritt, a Research Associate at CASTL and one of the leads on this project. “We hope that students will become more connected to the environment as they spend time outdoors carefully observing and studying the river ecosystem.”
Middle school can be a time when many students lose interest in science and disengage from school work. The project team also hopes to increase students’ engagement and interest in science as a result of this program.
Sara Rimm-Kaufman, an Associate Professor and head of the Social Development Lab at CASTL, is excited about the opportunity to measure the efficacy of the service learning experience. “This project will create opportunities for students to engage in science learning outside of their classrooms. We hope that students can see the products of their efforts play out very concretely.”
Rimm-Kaufman noted that middle school students often show an eagerness to make a difference and engage in activities that matter to their community. Therefore, over the course of the project students will have the opportunity to identify and explore some local environmental problems and take action to fix them or educate others about them.
This project will last for about nine weeks throughout the spring semester. This work is co-sponsored by grants from the DuBarry Foundation and Youth-Nex, the Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.
See press release.