The non-profit partner of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), The Parklands Foundation, recently received a $10,000 grant from The Bosch Community Fund. The funds will go to support The BioDiscovery Project, which fosters exploration of aquatic biodiversity through a citizen-science, inquiry-based, and STEM-focused project.
The goal of the BioDiscovery Project is to promote environmental stewardship through STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) education. Through the construction and deployment of a biorack, students observe, identify, and study aquatic flora and fauna, examine water quality parameters, and connect with other participating schools via a data portal. Inquiry-based STEM activities will be implemented in classrooms and non-formal education sites across the state of South Carolina. Ten teachers and approximately 500 students ranging in age from second grade through high school are involved in the project. Students will take part in a field trip to James Island County Park or Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County Park for research, and all field trip fees are covered by the grant. Through sampling devices, the project is also helping CCPRC monitor living organisms in the park system’s brackish waters.
“The big picture goal of the BioDiscovery Project is to create a network of sampling systems throughout the state of South Carolina to gain a better understanding of what is living in our watersheds and monitor the health of these systems,” said CCPRC Interpretation and Stewardship Manager Beth Burkett.
The following schools are participating in the BioDiscovery Project: James Island Charter High School, Orange Grove Elementary Charter School, Ashley Hall, Columbia High School, West Ashley High School, Ocean Bay Middle School, Macedonia Middle School, Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, and Whittemore Park Middle School. In an effort to create a network of sampling sites throughout the state, the project involves several schools not within the Lowcountry. Funds awarded from the recent grant will go to a set of teachers in the 2019 school year.
“The BioDiscovery Project has opened our classroom to an authentic and engaging learning experience,” said Maura Hall, a teacher with Orange Grove Elementary Charter School. “My seven-year-old students are learning how to manipulate microscopes, practicing how to record data, and learning how to identify species that thrive right here in the neighborhood pond. My hope is that through this project, I am inspiring some future scientists! ”
Other community partners involved with the project include the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab and Clemson University Cooperative Extension. The partner network is expected to grow in 2019.
The Bosch Community Fund, the U.S.-based foundation for Bosch, has awarded over $22 million in grants to various 501(c)(3) organizations and educational institutions. The Bosch Community Fund focuses primarily on the enrichment of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the advancement of environmental sustainability initiatives.
The vision of The Parklands Foundation of Charleston County is to identify, develop and sustain projects that actively encourage people to experience CCPRC’s facilities, programs and services for the benefit of living a healthier and safer lifestyle. A nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization, The Parklands Foundation was created in May 1990 by CCPRC to generate funding for the continued growth and development of the county park system, and to support increased leisure opportunities for residents. For more information, visit TheParklandsFoundation.org or call 843-640-5451.