School-based Ecology and Environmental Discoveries (SEEDS)

Schoool-based Ecology and Environmental Discoveries (SEEDS) is a collaborative program between two research units at Columbia University – the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) – and four New York City public high schools – The Young Women’s Leadership School, The New York Harbor School, Frederick Douglass Academy, and Curtis High School. The four participating high schools host environmental research projects investigating conditions in local wetlands, water bodies and the atmosphere. School buildings, grounds and laboratories are the “home base” for the individual projects. LDEO and EICES provide scientific leadership, technical expertise, mentoring, and access to analytical equipment that cannot be installed in the high schools. As part of the program, Columbia’s Summer Research Program provides collaborative professional development oriented to hands-on, inquiry- and data-based instruction. One teacher and two students from each school participate full-time over the summer months; two to four classes at each school participate, albeit less intensely, during the school year. During pilot projects based at LDEO during the past 4 years, teams of research scientists, science teachers and high school students produced novel research-quality datasets. Emphasis on generating high quality data enhances the pedagogy of the participating teachers, draws NYC public school students into STEM careers, and improves the academic success of participating students.