National Science Foundation grants UCR and Riverside schools $1.19 million to address air quality

The National Science Foundation (NSF), a U.S. government agency that supports research and education in the non-medical fields of science and engineering, recently awarded UCR and the Riverside Unified School District a grant of $1.19 million in order to provide a high school curriculum that addresses air quality.

The grant will create the Riverside Air Monitoring Project (RAMP) which will provide curriculum that will educate students on air pollution as well as the health impacts of pollution.

Cecilia Cheung, an assistant professor of psychology at UCR, will work with high school science teachers in Riverside to create new lessons that incorporate topics about air quality. Cheung stated in an interview with the Highlander that this project will also provide a platform to conduct research on teaching, student motivation and STEM engagement. UCR’s Center for Environmental Research & Technology (CE-CERT) will be involved in curriculum development and will provide training for teachers on air quality issues and technology, such as how to use air quality monitors.

Cheung stated, “We are hoping to increase students’ awareness of environmental challenges (e.g., poor air quality) pertinent to their daily lives, and to get them excited about learning science and STEM career opportunities.”

Among other things, Cheung will be conducting research on teacher and student engagement in the new curriculum and assist in curriculum development and teacher training. She stated, “The data my team collects will help us better understand how we can link locally-relevant environmental issues to teaching and learning about science.”

The program will be implemented at high schools in the Riverside Unified School District starting in the fall of 2020. Funding for the program will extend until Jan. 31, 2022.

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