Engaging Students in an Environmental Community Service Learning Intervention

The researchers will work with a group of middle-schoolers at Albemarle County’s Community Public Charter School tackle a local environmental problem selected by the students.

“Many students do not have opportunities to spend time outdoors engaged in solving real-world problems,” said Merritt, whose career has focused on helping connect students with nature.

The goal will be to increase the children’s interest in science, knowledge of the environment and civic engagement through participation in a community service-learning project, Rimm-Kaufman said. Additional expertise in planning the curricula will come from Karen McGlathery, an environmental scientist in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“We want students to choose from a set of environmentally oriented projects and engage in those projects with supportive adults, and see the link between their actions and a change in their community,” Rimm-Kaufman said. One idea is to help provide a natural buffer between pollutants from an airport runway and the nearby Rivanna River.

Ashby Kindler, the principal of the charter school, and science teacher Kathryn Durkee will also collaborate.

According to Rimm-Kaufman, “This grant aligns well with the school’s mission to reach students who may be disengaged from school and help them become independent thinkers, problem-solvers and active citizens.”

Principal Investigator:
Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, Associate Professor of Education, University of Virginia, Curry School of Education

Eileen Merritt, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia, Curry School of Education

Other 2012 Seed-funded Projects

Related Media: UVA Today