News Release                                             Contact : Sondra Katzen
September 25, 2013                                                                               Public Relations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

National Science Foundation Awards Major
Advancing Informal STEM Learning Grant to Chicago Zoological Society

Brookfield, IL— The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, was recently awarded a $1.658 million National Science Foundation grant for its SCIENCES Program–Supporting a Community’s Informal Education Needs: Confidence and Empowerment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The project will create, implement, and research a “STEM ecosystem” in support of lifelong environmental science learning in Fuller Park, a severely under-resourced Chicago community.

The National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program invests in the research and development of innovative and field-advancing out-of-school STEM learning and emerging STEM learning environments that emphasize in making learning lifelong, life wide (occurring across multiple venues) and life deep (occurring at different levels of complexity).

In partnership with Eden Place Nature Center, located in the Fuller Park community, a full suite of environmental science learning opportunities targeting teachers, youth, families, and adults will be woven into an “ecosystemic” learning model. In addition, a research component led by the University of Illinois at Chicago will expand the understanding of the role of large cultural institutions, such as CZS, with diversified informal science learning portfolios, in helping enhance science knowledge and interest for diverse audiences.

“Deep community engagement and broad participation in science learning are national priorities. Under-resourced populations have undervalued skills and experiences and as a result they are often overlooked as potential contributors to science,” said Alejandro Grajal, Ph.D., senior vice president of conservation, education, and training for CZS. “Our project will improve scientific literacy through the implementation of science education resources that are relevant to and meet the needs of the Fuller Park community.”

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.

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