Peabody Museum Awarded $900,000 Federal Grant to Support Partnership with New Haven Schools

Two Yale professors with joint appointments at the Peabody Museum of Natural History have been awarded $900,000 to reform science education in New Haven public schools.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health, which is the largest in the museum’s history, will fund the new, four-year Peabody Fellows Biodiversity and Human Health Program.

The funding was awarded to Michael J. Donoghue, the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and curator of the Division of Botany and director of the Yale Herbarium at the museum, and Leonard E. Munstermann, research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, and associate curator of the museum’s Division of Entomology.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our work in this area,” said Museum Director Richard L. Burger. “This program, in particular, will be a creative and effective way for teachers, students and their families to learn how human health is dependent upon a healthy natural world.”

The target audiences are New Haven science teachers, students and their families. The program will include courses for teachers and interactive mobile science units used to promote science literacy in grades 3 through 8. The BioAction Lab units will be equipped with more than 300 hands-on natural history specimens, microscopes, and other materials.

The curriculum will focus on four broad areas: plant biodiversity/medicinal and food resources; vertebrate biodiversity/food resources; invertebrate biodiversity/pathogens, and environmental changes/health risks.

The grant will be used to increase the number of scientists, educators, teachers, and community activists dedicated to getting science-rich resources into the hands and minds of schoolchildren and teachers. The collaborative effort will include the museum, Yale’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, the Yale Child Study Center, and the Yale University Health Services Center, as well as New Haven schools, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the New Haven Natural Guard, and The Connecticut Academy for Education in Math, Science and Technology.

Among resources available will be the museum’s collection of 11 million biology, paleobiology and geology specimens; access to Yale laboratory facilities and diverse habitat sites at the museum’s field station on Long Island Sound; and access to the museum’s Discovery Room, which is equipped with 2,000 natural history specimens, learning materials and interactive exhibits.

New Haven school administrators will designate four schools each year as Peabody Partner Schools. Teachers and library media specialists selected from grades 3 through 8 will commit to be Peabody Fellows for one year and work with scientists, museum staff and other professional educators.

Parents and other family members will be invited to Peabody Museum Month at their children’s schools and the museum’s Biodiversity Day celebration, which will recognize and showcase student and teacher achievement in the area of biodiversity and human health.

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