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Beyond Counting Tree Rings

Worcester Polytechnic Institute researchers have received a grant to help high school teachers blend biology and computer science in the classroom, according to the school.

"It is critical in this information age for high school biology teachers to integrate computational thinking and approaches into their teaching," WPI's Elizabeth Ryder says.

The three-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation will enable the WPI-led team — which includes biologists and computer scientists, local teachers, and college and high school students — to develop curriculum for teachers and encourage them and their students to collect their own data and develop tools to analyze it.

The students are to focus on real-world issues like pollinator decline and the loss of biodiversity, which Ryder says may help capture and hold their attention.

The team aims to develop curriculum that can be used in a range of classrooms, from introductory biology to advanced placement computer science. After the teachers test it in their own classrooms, the team plans to train other teachers to roll it out on a wider scale.