1. Jason Aloisio
  2. https://www.jasonaloisio.com/
  3. Manger of Project TRUE
  4. Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  5. https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true
  6. Wildlife Conservation Society
  1. Rachel Becker-Klein
  2. President
  3. Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  4. https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true
  5. Two Roads Consulting
  1. J. Clark
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  4. https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true
  5. Fordham University
  1. J.D. Lewis
  2. Professor and Associate Chair
  3. Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  4. https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true
  5. Fordham University
  1. Karen Tingley
  2. Director of Education
  3. Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  4. https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true
  5. Wildlife Conservation Society
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 10:10 a.m.

    Welcome to the Project TRUE STEM Video Showcase Page!

    Thanks you for taking a few moments from your busy schedule to view this video.

    I am incredible proud of each and every student that has worked on the Project TRUE team over the past 4 years.

    This video represents just a small snapshot of Project TRUE and I look forward to discussing more about the program throughout this Showcase!

    Check us out on Instagram or Twitter @TRUEcologyNYC

     
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    Rebecca Grella, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Laleh Cote

    Laleh Cote

    Graduate Student
    May 13, 2019 | 02:29 p.m.

    I really like how this project gets students involved in research in their own community, and I'm sure brings to their attention certain issues that they may not have been aware of before the program. 

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    Rebecca Grella, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Heidi Carlone

    Heidi Carlone

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 10:21 a.m.

    This looks like a great project, Jason! Our projects have a lot in common, I think. I really appreciate the critical role that the near-peer mentors play in your project. I agree that urban ecology is a critical and under-used avenue to get youth interested in STEM. I will enjoy reading the article you attached.

     
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    Rebecca Grella, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 10:55 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment, Heidi! 

    Indeed, urban ecology is inherently a transdisciplinary science with applied implications for human health and well-being. As a result, students can apply their existing knowledge and experience to the study of urban ecosystems and pursue research that might not be addressed by a more traditionally narrow discipline.  

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  • Icon for: Breanne Litts

    Breanne Litts

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 12:19 p.m.

    Looks like a fun project! Thank you for sharing it with the world. It certainly appears to offer impactful STEM experiences with the natural world in a city most usually associate with buildings and roads. It was also effective to have so many participant voices throughout the video.

    I would have liked to hear more in the video about what exactly the project is and how the various labs/teams work together (or don’t) in the field. Can you share a bit more about the broader context for this project? Did they work in their local areas together? 

    I am curious about the pragmatics of implementing this program. It seems like there would be a lot of logistics such as traveling to/from certain locations or managing other materials and resources. Are there any lessons learned that you could share with others who might be interested in implementing this in a different context? 

    I am interested to hear more about the long term impact from the follow up surveys that was briefly mentioned in the interview. Were there other data collected that captured interest in STEM or about their learning? What about anecdotal about broader impact? 

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 01:05 p.m.

    Thanks for your interest and comments, Breanne! These are great questions and I'll try to briefly address each below.

    1. In Project TRUE, undergraduates mentor 3-4 high school students. Each undergraduate-led team specializes in a particular area (e.g. Surveying American Eels in urban rivers or the effects of urbanization on birds). In some cases research sites overlap, but in others they are distinct. Nonetheless, there is ample time for all of the teams to build community together. In total, about 15 undergraduates and 50 high school students work with Project TRUE each summer. So there are 15 unique research projects being conducted simultaneously in parks all across NYC! 

    2. Indeed, conducting urban ecology field work in NYC can be logistically challenging. Certainly lots of lessons learned. I think the key lesson may be that no matter how much planning you do up-front, things are subject to change. Creating a culture that acknowledges this fact, embraces it, and works together to problem solve as challenges arise has been critical for our success. 

    3. We've conducted yearly follow-up surveys with HS students and a 1.5 year post-program semi-structured follow-up interview with undergraduates each of which included questions focused on interest in STEM (among other things). While we are currently writing up these results, both HS students and mentors interest in STEM was impacted by Project TRUE in terms of academic interests, career interests, utility of STEM in everyday thinking, and awareness of nature. Moreover, most students in both groups continue to report during follow-ups that Project TRUE was highly influential on their career trajectory. 

    I'm more than happy to expand further on any of these points!

     
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  • May 13, 2019 | 03:47 p.m.

    Related to #3, I was wondering about the percentage of high school students who did go on to take STEM-related courses and whether the program had impacted their sense of place/involvement in community-situated environmental issues.

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 04:57 p.m.

    Great question, Camellia. 

    First, about 60% of HS students continue to respond to our follow-up surveys 3 years after participation. Of those, about 90% were majoring in a STEM field at the beginning of freshman year and about 75% of students continue to major in STEM field at the beginning of their sophomore year. Over the same period, respondents report an increased interest in the value of scientific thinking in their daily lives and continue to report that their career, even if not majoring in a STEM field, will involve science. Suggesting that students are using scientific thinking, regardless of their career.

    We did not measure sense of place, however, students, on average, "Strongly Agree" that Project TRUE influenced items related to environmental identity, such as "I am part of nature". With project TRUE being a research-focused program, students present their research during several academic conferences and symposiums and engage with zoo patrons to share their results and recommendations. During interviews, students reported gaining confidence, knowledge, and skills conducting urban ecology research. For example, one student said "I went from 0 to 100, I didn't even know that urban ecology was a topic before the summer". 

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  • Icon for: Bess Caplan

    Bess Caplan

    Ecology Education Program Leader
    May 13, 2019 | 12:42 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing, Jason!  I'm involved in a similar high school urban ecology mentoring program in Baltimore.  What steps do you take to recruit your student participants?  Both at the high school and college level?  Do you employ any best practices to ensure students from underrepresented groups are recruited into the program?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 01:24 p.m.

    Hi Bess, thanks for your questions. I was just about to watch your video!

    Nearly all of our students, both at the HS and undergraduate level, are students from underrepresented groups. At WCS we have long-standing relationships with high schools across the city and share recruitment announcements to our teacher-networks. At the undergraduate level, we work closely with the Fordham University College Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). Finally, now that our program has been around for several years, we also reach out to alumni to share with their own networks. 

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  • Icon for: Karin Lohwasser

    Karin Lohwasser

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 01:24 p.m.

    Such important work. I look forward to learning more about it. Do you have a website?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 02:06 p.m.

    Hi Karin, Yes you can check out our website here: https://bronxzoo.com/teens/project-true 

     

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  • Icon for: Vonceil Anderson

    Vonceil Anderson

    K-12 Teacher
    May 13, 2019 | 02:18 p.m.

    What a great video and project!  Thanks for sharing Jason.

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    Jason Aloisio
  • Icon for: Jake Foster

    Jake Foster

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 08:29 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work. I love that the focus on young students, both high school and undergraduate. And I love that one metric you are looking to for impact is change in participant's "desire to take care of the environment." It sounds like this program has a significant impact on their thinking about this. It can sometimes be difficult to change young people's thinking about the environment. What do you think makes your program particularly successful in a relatively short time frame? Might there be some relation to the students living in an urban environment? Or might participating students choose to engage because they already have some idea that the environment is important? Or might the activities the project engages them in be particularly relevant to them in some way?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:43 p.m.

    Hi Jake, thanks for your kinds words and thoughtful questions.

    First, I think it is important to note that we do recruit students that have an interest in science. We feel, and research suggests, that nurturing an interest in science before college is very important, especially for students who might face additional challenges that could hinder their likelihood to pursue a STEM degree and career once entering college.

    From a research standpoint, it is a bit difficult to say, specifically and definitively, what makes Project TRUE successful. I say this because we did not compare Project TRUE to other programs, manipulate the program components experimental, or compare to a control population. Nonetheless, I am willing to make some inferences based on the data that we have collected. 

    Immediately after Project TRUE, HS students talk about how much they "loved" their mentors (not only the undergraduates, but also the graduate students and conservation educators) and report that they intend to keep in contact with many of their peers. HS students also talk about how challenging, but ultimately rewarding, the field work was and how proud they were to have conducted authentic research and produced a poster for an academic conference. Over time, students continue to report that Project TRUE, despite being seven weeks long, is highly influential compared to a host of other items (such as adults or media). Nonetheless, as time passes, it seems that students recall the general experience more than the specific programmatic components.

    Overall, we strive to make make that experience as inclusive as possible through our relational mentoring philosophy, where mentors and mentees are taught that mentoring is bi-directional and that both mentor and mentee are, at different times, teacher and student and that both contribute to the overall success of the relationship and research project. We also utilize a place-based approach and value the natural components of the urban ecosystem, where the students (and mentors) all live and work. Exploring the urban ecosystem together, as a team, creates a shared experience that seems to resonate with both HS students and undergraduates. 

     

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  • May 13, 2019 | 09:57 p.m.

    Go Project TRUE! What a great retrospective on a wonderful urban ecology program! Would love to hear more about your outreach efforts.  How are you obtaining your student cohort?  Are you involving teachers?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 10:44 a.m.

    Thanks, Rebecca!

    We are doing outreach through a number of different avenues. We disseminate student research to academic audiences through conferences and symposia. Student posters are also available on the WCS website and the students curate an active Instagram account (@TRUEcologyNYC) to inspire the world about the value of urban nature. They also share their research at public events held at the Bronx Zoo and engage patrons with hands-on activities. We have actively engaged with the informal education, Zoo and Aquarium, and ecology communities at conferences by sharing our programmatic model and findings and published our first peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Urban Ecology, which more on the way. We will also be sharing our mentor training materials later this year at the annual Ecological Society of America conference. 

    High school students are recruited through existing networks with local high schools and undergraduate students are recruited from Fordham University. 

    Conservation educators, professional educators on staff at our zoos, play a central role in making this program a success. Conservation educators take the lead on mentoring undergraduates students and managing them during the summer to ensure that the program is engaging for HS students. Graduate students also mentor undergraduates, but generally apply their skill-set towards ensuring the rigor of the research projects. 

    If folks considered creating their own version of Project TRUE, I believe that K-12 teachers could be integrated to take the place of the conservation educator in our model. I believe that this could provide an incredible PD opportunity for teachers and would be a fun way to spend the summer, outside! 

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  • Icon for: Perla Myers

    Perla Myers

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2019 | 02:16 a.m.

    What a great project! It's wonderful that the students have the opportunity to get to explore in their own environment! How did the collaboration between WCS and Fordham University develop?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 10:27 a.m.

    Thanks, Perla!

    Fordham University and WCS have been neighbors in the Bronx for over 100 years and have collaborated on many different projects. I began developing the Project TRUE model with Karen Tingley (co-presenter and lead PI) 8 years ago while I was a graduate student at Fordham University. The partnership between Fordham and WCS is also formalized through the Bronx Science Consortium, which also brings together the New York Botanical Garden and Montefiore. 

     
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  • Icon for: J.D. Lewis

    J.D. Lewis

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 03:46 p.m.

    Just following on (and mostly just echoing) Jason's comments. As he notes, WCS and Fordham have a long history working together. As examples from the Fordham side, Jason is one of several Fordham grad students over the last several decades who have gone on to work at WCS, and WCS faculty have taken classes or earned advanced degrees through Fordham. And, several Fordham faculty, including Alan and me, have long-running research collaborations with WCS faculty. As a result, quite a network has developed between our institutions over the decades. Having said that, Jason's work with Karen to develop TRUE was distinct and novel from these other collaborations, so implementing a program like TRUE elsewhere doesn't require a century of prior collaboration! 

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  • May 14, 2019 | 08:47 a.m.

    Fantastic project. I'm wondering if/how you are training the undergraduate mentors and if you are assessing how the experience has impacted their identity as scientists. Also, if you have used the project as a way to reach out to the local communities as well. Great work!

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 10:12 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca,

    We do train undergraduates with a focus on research and mentoring. Over the past four years we've modified curricula developed by the National Research Mentoring Network to specifically train undergraduates as near-peer mentors for high school students in a research setting. We will be sharing more about these materials at the Annual Ecological Society of America Conference in August. Undergraduates report significant improvement in both research and mentoring skills. They also report gains in positive attitudes about research. Most undergraduates had never conducted research before Project TRUE and report during follow-up interviews that they gained a great deal of confidence in conducting research and applied those skills to other contexts after Project TRUE. 

    We engage with the local community in multiple ways. Nearly all of the HS students are from NYC with a few coming from just outside the the city boundaries (e.g. Yonkers). For example, all HS students working at the Bronx Zoo this year are from the Bronx. In addition to sharing results in academic settings, the students display their results at the zoo on a busy weekend day and engage patrons in interactive hands-on activities. The activities teach patrons about the students' research and aim to inspire local communities to engage with the incredible natural spaces that NYC has to offer.  

     
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    Rebecca Roberts
  • Icon for: J. Clark

    J. Clark

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 07:48 p.m.

    Hello Rebecca, as a Fordham University Co-PI with Project TRUE, one of the biggest surprises to me was the noticeable and positive impact of Project TRUE on our undergraduate mentors. While assessing the impact of Project TRUE on undergraduates was not one of our original, primary goals, we did a bit of reorganizing to better track and assess how participating in Project TRUE impacted undergraduates. And as Jason has mentioned in other comments, Project TRUE does indeed have a number of positive impacts on the lives and career goals of our undergraduate mentors.

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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 14, 2019 | 01:42 p.m.

    Great program, and great video. I love the use of undergrads as mentors!

       One thing I didn't pick up from the video, and all the great back-and-forth in this discussion is:  Who uses the data that the students collect?  Do theypresent their data to anybody?  Do their data contribute to research studies being carried on by scientsts in the city?  

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 04:47 p.m.

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the question.

    Students create posters that you can view here and are publicly available. The posters are presented at the annual Bronx Science Consortium Poster Symposium (which is open to the public) and during a busy weekend day at the Bronx Zoo. Some students also go on to present their research at local, regional, and, national conferences.

    In Project TRUE, we focus on teaching students (undergrads and HS) the process of scientific inquiry/research so that they can devise their own research questions and develop agency/ownership over those research questions. The trade-off to this approach is that the data are not necessarily contributing larger research objectives and may not be extended year to year.

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  • Icon for: Rachel Becker-Klein

    Rachel Becker-Klein

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 05:02 p.m.

    The comments to this poster are really wonderful. I am honored to be leading the evaluation component of this project. The evaluation focused on monitoring the program implementation and mentor (i.e. undergraduates, grad students, zoo instructors, and PIs) outcomes over the course of the four years. We primarily used qualitative methods (i.e. focus groups, interviews, and evaluator observations). 

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:59 a.m.

    Rachel's thoughtful evaluation was invaluable to Project TRUE.

    Each year we utilized her analysis to think carefully and critically about program implementation and make changes as appropriate. Of course, not all the feedback was positive, which was sometimes challenging to hear. Nonetheless, we felt that it was important listen and reflect on all feedback so that we could continue to improve program implementation. 

    Thanks, Rachel, for being an incredible elevator and asset to Project TRUE! 

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  • Icon for: Erin Riesland

    Erin Riesland

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2019 | 06:54 p.m.

    It's really great seeing youth engage at the scale of the city in this way! I, too, research place-based learning and am apart of a research/practice partnership that leverages undergraduate STEM majors as mentors (STUDIO). I was wondering if you used any collaborative technologies to share learners' findings outside of the program?

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:40 a.m.

    Thanks, Erin! Do you mean things like zoom and skype? If so, we are not currently. The students do curate our social media presence during the summer so there is some digital outreach there and posters/results are publicly available online for anyone to access. The participants also share their results at to the public at the zoo and at conferences. 

    Do you have experience using collaborative technologies for this kind of thing with students? Would love to hear more about what that looks like.

     
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  • May 15, 2019 | 09:50 a.m.

    Jason,

    I'm curious about how the venues are chosen for sharing out of results. Do you have any data on the impacts of these presentations on participants, the general public, or scientists who might be in attendance? It's great that participants are able to share their findings. Also, have there been any actionable decisions made (for example, city council) based on their results?

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:43 a.m.

    Hi Camellia,

    Thanks for these questions. We use poster rubrics to evaluate poster quality. These rubrics were generated through an iterative process with the evaluation team and PIs. The poster rubrics are shared with students prior to the creation of there posters. During interviews, students talk about how much they learned about generating posters, and in follow-ups mention that these skills helped give them a leg-up in later college classes. Students also talk about how proud they are of their work and are enthusiastic about their peers work.

    There are several audiences that attend our events (a public-share out at the zoo and a more traditional academic conference that is free and open to the public); family, friends, the public, scientists, educators, faculty, and administrators. We do not systematically survey these audiences. However, anecdotal evidence from these audiences suggests that they are each highly impressed with the posters, presentations, and the students. Faculty from Fordham, for example, often comment about the professionalism and level of rigor that the projects display. And, parents will often digitally record presentations and chat with me about how proud they are of their child's accomplishment.

    In Project TRUE, research is largely student-driven. In some cases projects will focus on issues that may have direct applications, but in others they may not. One recent project focused on micro-plastics in urban ponds, a novel area of research in the urban ecology literature. In this project, students made recommendations and WCS is actively engaging with local and national government officials to mitigate the use of plastics. In other cases, students might conduct more basic research. For example, a recent study focused on the distribution of ant species in large urban parks. Their recommendations focused more on further research that could be done to better understand the distribution and role of ants in urban areas.

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    Kelli Paul

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 02:22 p.m.

    Interesting video and project! I work on a project that also utilizes undergraduate students, but in our project the mentors work with elementary students on engineering projects. We are trying to better understand the influence that these undergraduate mentors have on students' interest and career aspirations. Do you have data from your project as to whether your mentors have influenced students and/or what it is about working with these near-peer mentors that has been most impactful for the students? Or is it the opportunity to do the hands-on research that seems to impact students?

    Second, you touched on it a little in the video and in some of your comments, but have you examined the impact of being a mentor on the mentors themselves? Do you have a sense of whether your mentors see themselves as being role models for the students or do they see themselves filling another role (E.g., co-learner, teacher, etc.)? 

     

    I look forward to reading more about your project. Thank you for sharing the article and other links in the comments above. 

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 03:51 p.m.

    Hi Kelli,

    Thanks for your comments and great questions! 

    We do ask high school students to rank, individually, the influence of the general program experience, the field work, and their mentor.HS students rank all 3 of these components at being highly influential immediately after the program. As time progresses (up to 3 years after the program), the HS students continue to rank the general program as highly influential, but the influence of field work and their mentor begins to diminish (but not a lot). While we din't experimentally manipulate these components, this does suggest that all of these components play an important role, but that over time the memory of the program becomes more generalized. We are working, right now, to further analyze this. Nonetheless, the program experience is, inextricably, made-up of both hands-on field research and working as part of a community of peers and mentors. 

    We have a draft manuscript prepared that explores the effects of Project TRUE on undergraduates. We hope to submit very soon and I'd be happy to share that with you when it becomes available. The manuscript describes results collected from a mixed-method approach that also included semi-structured interviews 1.5 years after program participation. Results suggest that undergraduates internalize the Project TRUE mentoring model, relational mentoring. That is to say that they view themselves as both mentor and mentee at different times with different people. While they are the mentor for the HS students (and see themselves as a role-model/guide), they value the contribution that the HS student has to offer and recognize that they can also learn from the HS student. Undergraduates also value their role-models, the conservation educators and graduate students, who primarily mentor the undergraduates. At the same time, the conservation educators and graduate students learn from the undergraduates, who become subject-area experts on their own projects.

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  • Icon for: Kelli Paul

    Kelli Paul

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 03:36 p.m.

    Jason,

    Thank you for your response! I would definitely be interested in your upcoming paper. We have begun to explore similar topics and impacts on our undergraduate mentors, so it would be great to see what you are finding in your project. 

    I am sure that all the program aspects are influential, so disentangling individual effects poses quite a challenge. It is great that many of the aspects of the program are still rated positively over time!

    I definitely will explore the relationship mentoring further. It seems to be similar to what we are hearing about the experiences of some of our undergraduates when they describe what they get out of being a mentor. 

    I look forward to learning more about your work. 

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  • May 16, 2019 | 09:53 a.m.

    Jason et al.,

    Fantastic project!  Thanks for sharing it with such a nice video.  I wonder if you and your team would be open to expanding your ecology inquiry to include related contextual topics such as hydrogeology and soil geochemistry?  The geosciences have a long-standing pipeline problem, and rich place-based projects like yours are ideally suited to address this.  

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 11:28 a.m.

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks so much for viewing and your kind words. 

    Urban ecology is a transdisciplinary science and, therefore, draws from many different fields, including the geosciences. During project TRUE, students have integrated soil science into their research projects. We have, for example, had students analyze for minerals, nutrients, texture, and acidity of soils. Students have also studied green roofs, which alter urban hydrology and are particularly important for mitigating combined sewer overflows. 

    Project TRUE 2017 HS student alum and current 2019 Undergraduate Research Mentor Diana Reyonoso recently wrote an essay entitled The Green Apple about some of these concepts. 

     
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    Jonathan Lewis
  • May 16, 2019 | 11:43 a.m.

    Thanks Jason. Wonderful essay!  I’m very happy that your project is holistic. 

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  • Icon for: Laura Rodriguez

    Laura Rodriguez

    Graduate Student
    May 16, 2019 | 10:00 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your project! From a STEM identity authoring standpoint, it is both fascinating and important work. I am wondering how decisions about the individual (or team?) research projects are made with so many levels of mentors/mentees. In the commentary above, it talked about the project having an emphasis on teaching undergrads and high school students the methods of inquiry and that the research is student-driven. How are research interests negotiated among high school, undergraduate and graduate students to design the final research projects? I'm also wondering about the financial aspect of this project. Is the project free for participants? Are there summer stipends for high school as well as undergraduate and graduate students? The loss of seven weeks summer pay might be difficult for many students who would benefit from such an amazing experience.

     
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  • Icon for: Jason Aloisio

    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 12:01 p.m.

    Hi Laura,

    This is a great question. Research projects are nested within each other so that we can take a guided-inquiry approach, where students are given the freedom to choose their research projects within the permitting and logistical constraints that we are bound.

    Undergraduate are trained and develop their individual research projects during June, when the HS students are still in school, with the guidance of conservation educators, graduate students, faculty, and WCS staff. During the first 2 weeks of the 7-week summer program involving HS students, the HS students learn about the various projects and build community. HS students are then paired with undergraduates based on HS student interests and community dynamics. Undergraduate then guide the HS students through the development of their own research questions that are nested within the undergraduate project. A graphic of this approach can be seen in our Journal of Urban Ecology paper that is linked at attached to this site. 

    All participants of Project TRUE receive stipends of various levels (including HS, undergraduate, and graduate). Funding for this was initially provided by NSF, but is now generously provided by the Pinkerton Foundation. With their support, we have joined the NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium, which supports a variety of pre-college research mentoring programs.  

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    Ron Jacobson

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 16, 2019 | 10:06 a.m.

    Just posted this on Facebook:

    One of the wonderful projects I have had the honor to support is Project TRUE -- a program administered by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fordham University, and funded by the National Science Foundation. This 3-minute video illustrates the importance of providing these types of opportunities for young people to work and learn together, and develop a passion for the study of science and nature.

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    Miguel Lluesma

    May 16, 2019 | 03:55 p.m.

    Great job.  I wish more programs like this existed when I was in school.  I might have know what I wanted to be when I grow up... you know, other than playing for the Yankees or the NY Giants. 

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 04:30 p.m.

    : )    Thanks! 

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    Amy Bolton

    Informal Educator
    May 16, 2019 | 10:32 p.m.

    This is a great project. I was wondering if you are seeing more teens in your program who are feeling a sense of urgency or responsibility for finding solutions to environmental issues we face today. Do they have a sense that they are inheriting a planet with problems they will need to fix? And if so how do they feel about that?

     
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    Jason Aloisio

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:54 a.m.

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for these questions. I think it is really interesting to think about shifting perceptions of environmental issues. I think that fear is a particularly strong motivator that is commonly used to mobilize groups around a common cause. In Project TRUE, we try our best to take an objective approach to humanity's impact on the environment. I think my colleague Eric Sanderson summarized this sentiment well in the following quote from his 2002 BIoScience Paper.

    “Human influence on Earth can be positive or negative, benign or catastrophic. Recognizing this responsibility is the first step each of us can take to transform the human footprint and save the last of the wild.”  Dr. Eric W. Sanderson

    To address the question a bit more directly, though, students in Project TRUE do seem to be motivated to have a positive impact on the environment and, through studying the impacts of urbanization on wildlife in NYC, seem to recognize that humanity has exerted pressure on natural resources. At the same time, students also come to recognize that humans had enough foresight to relegate 14% (30,000 acres) of the surface area of NYC as parks and natural areas. While this may not be enough, it suggests that there are, and have been, many people dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation.

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  • May 18, 2019 | 09:22 p.m.

    Hi Jason,

    What an interesting and inspiring project, connecting urban ecology to opportunities to support high school students partnered with undergraduate mentors. Our Conservation Training Project has us partnering adults and teens in intergenerational partnerships. Given this, I wonder what type of interactional principles you might share with teens and undergrad mentors to perhaps helps mentors work with teens or vice-versa (i.e., if there are any ways you think of preparing high school students to work with the mentors. I only ask as this is something we are continually thinking about.

     

    Collegially,

    Todd

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