Kaptur: Nearly $1 Million National Science Foundation Award to Follow on UT McAuliffe Recognition

August 24, 2017
Press Release
NURTURES project aims to bring together early childhood teachers and families to enhance science education

Toledo, OH – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) today announced that the National Science Foundation will award nearly $1 million to the Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science (NURTURES) project at the University of Toledo to complete the second phase of its early childhood learning project, bringing the total federal award to over $2.2 million. The participants for the second phase of this project includes 120 teachers, 2,400 preschool through third grade children and over 7,200 family members in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

“What a tremendous opportunity for the young children, their families and teachers in our region to participate in a project that will enhance their understanding of science and the natural world around them,” said Kaptur. “It is so important for the project team at the University of Toledo to continue to study the impact that family engagement has on a young child’s education. We know that spending time reading to child exposes them to 1.8 million words a year. What other things could families be exposing to their children to set them on a pathway for success in life? The NURTURES project at the University of Toledo aims to find that out.”

According to the National Science Foundation, an important facet of this follow-up project is the research effort to understand how each component impacts student learning. Project leaders plan to use control groups and standardized tests to measure the effect of teacher professional development compared to family engagement activities.

“We are pleased to receive additional funding from the National Science Foundation for the NURTURES program,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in The University of Toledo College of Engineering. “Building on our previous success, we will simultaneously target early childhood teachers, families and children to create a broad support system for powerful and effective science teaching and learning. This program will help close the gaps in science, mathematics, reading and literacy for young children.”

The program includes five primary components:

  • A two-week summer institute for preschool through third grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;
  • Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;
  • Family science activity packets sent home from school four times a year that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;
  • Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and
  • Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

The University of Toledo’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program strives to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third grade students. Earlier this month, The American Association of State Colleges and Universities honored The University of Toledo with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of the NURTURES program.