TOLEDO, OH—The University of Toledo NURTURES program, aimed at transforming science education for students in preschool through third grade, was awarded new federal resources today. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown applauded the $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to UT, whose NURTURES (Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University enRich Early Childhood Science) program brings together the UT Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service, and College of Engineering, in collaboration with Toledo Public Schools, Apple Tree Nursery School, the East Toledo Family Center Day Care, the Toledo Day Nursery, Olivet Nursery, Fairgreen Nursery, the Toledo Catholic Schools, UT Ritter Planetarium, Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, Toledo Metroparks, Toledo Botanical Gardens, Toledo Grows, Lourdes College Nature Laboratory, Challenger Learning Center, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Lucas County Library, and WGTE Public Media.
“Instilling an early love and understanding of science—beginning in the preschool and elementary school years—is vitally important because so many Ohio industries, from aerospace to clean energy, rely on an understanding of science,” Brown said. “The building blocks critical to a lifetime of learning are laid during the earliest years of a student’s education. The work that the NURTURES program will accomplish—with the University of Toledo and its partners in northwest Ohio and across our state—will help prepare our children for a lifetime of learning and success.”
The award will be detailed at a press conference at the University of Toledo this afternoon. A member of Brown’s staff will attend. Brown recently introduced the Ready Schools Act of 2011, a bill aimed at preparing elementary schools to serve all children. A “ready” elementary school has school principals and educators who understand and use developmentally appropriate curricula, assessments, and teaching practices; involves and engages families; and works cooperatively with the early childhood programs for younger children to create a positive transition into the early grades of school.
According to the University of Toledo, the program will begin at Apple Tree Nursery School and local Head Start providers and then expand to include more teachers and educational environments. During the course of the five-year project, students, parents, and teachers all will gain valuable information to improve the interest and achievement in science for about 11,000 students in the greater Toledo area. Summer institutes will provide the professional development needed for science educators to develop challenging inquiry-based and age-appropriate science instruction that also integrates reading and math. The training will reach a total of 495 teachers, principals, and directors in at least 50 community-based early care and education programs and 300 K-3 classrooms. Teachers will learn skills to help engage families in formal and informal education, which also will be supported with seven annual community science events that will reach about 10,000 families during the course of the project through partners such as the Toledo Zoo and Imagination Station.