National Science Foundation gives $1.2 million to bolster high school chemistry in Baltimore

The National Science Foundation is providing $1.2 million to help bolster the chemistry curriculum in Baltimore and transform how it is taught in the city’s high schools.

The grant will support a partnership between the Baltimore Ecosystem Study and the city school system to design a course of study that infuses Earth science into chemistry classes. The topics explored will be Baltimore-focused, according to an announcement on Thursday by The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, an independent environmental research organization.

The lessons will incorporate data collected by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a research program that studies ecological systems over time. Students will learn about the various ways chemistry impacts the local environment, according to the Cary institute. They will study acid rain and the weathering of city sidewalks, learn about local fluctuations in carbon dioxide levels and urban heat, and explore the influence of green spaces in the city.

“Our hope is that by anchoring Earth science lessons in Baltimore research, the content will be more relevant and engaging to students,” Bess Caplan, an educator with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, said in a statement. “In the process of learning chemistry, they will gain a greater understanding of both Earth science and local environmental concerns.”

Caplan is recruiting seven city chemistry teachers to assist in rolling out the curriculum, which is aligned with the science standards adopted by Maryland in 2013.

“The Next Generation Science Standards require the inclusion of Earth/Space Science in the traditional high school science curriculum,” Joshua Gabrielse, the city schools’ science coordinator, said in a statement. “We are meeting this challenge by embedding Earth science in new biology, physics, and chemistry courses.”

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