CSI: Community Science Investigators

CSI Teacher and Students

CSI is a technology-based, community-focused after-school program run in middle schools in the Boston and St. Louis areas through an NSF grant to the Missouri Botanical Garden and the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program. The program combines three strands that work together to engage students in projects that help them explore science topics and make a difference in their community.

Students first get outdoors in their community to play augmented reality games, built on STEP's MITAR software platform. They quickly move on to writing and building their own narrative games tailored to their school or neighborhood. They also use geospatial technologies like GIS and other mapping tools to collect and visualize real data, focused on a local science-related topic - for instance, local food production, or invasive species.

These technologies all contribute to a service learning project based on a need identified by the group. Past examples include setting up a recycling program, and helping a troubled bat population. The knowledge gained and data collected enables students to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

Teachers from the host schools receive continuous professional development during a two-week summer experience and as they facilitate the program throughout the school year. Preliminary data has shown that students are more engaged than with traditional instruction, and they begin to think of themselves differently as learners as they use real-world experience to understand science and geography!

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