North Lakeland Discovery Center receives Battelle NEON STEM Grant
February 14, 2020
North Lakeland Discovery Center was one of the recipients of a grant from Battelle to fund student research using the open data generated by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).
NEON, a continental-scale ecological observation facility sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed and operated by Battelle since 2016, collects long-term ecological data from across the United States to better understand how ecosystems are changing. The open-access comprehensive data, spatial extent and remote sensing technology provided through the NEON program is enabling a large and diverse user community to tackle important questions at scales not accessible to previous generations of ecologists.
“These grants are indicative of the high importance we place on STEM education and the value of NEON data,” Battelle chief scientist Michael Kuhlman said. “Now that NEON is fully operational, we are focused not only on enabling the world’s ecological research community to use it, but also helping the next generation.”
In offering the grants, Battelle received ideas from schools, observatories and other organizations about how students could learn key science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts by working with the data generated by NEON. Five projects were selected through a national competitive request for proposals.
“We are so excited about the funding awarded to North Lakeland Discovery Center for our environmental education programming!” NLDC naturalist Annie McDonnell said. “At a time when bird populations have been declining and mammal habitats are threatened, encouraging K-12 students to use NEON data to learn more about the Northwoods environment is crucial.”
The grant will fund environmental education programming at North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters. The proposed project will incorporate NEON’s data from regional studies on terrestrial nesting bird populations and small mammal populations into the Discovery Center’s existing K-12 education programs. The objective is to improve data literacy, encourage critical thinking and use of the scientific method, increase students’ awareness and understanding of wildlife ecology, and inspire students to make connections between their lives and the natural world.