A new three-year $1.17 million grant from the National Science Foundation will turn fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students into “urban scientists.” As part of the grant project, Drexel University’s School of Education and researchers will work with teachers and about 400 students in Philadelphia Promise Zone –  an urban region of low socioeconomic standing – to provide more immersive STEM learning opportunities.

One of the initiatives called Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers involves apps designed to help students identify and evaluate the needs of different species of animals living in their neighborhoods. Students will use the app on smartphones and tablets while receiving instruction from 40 teachers and out-of-school providers. They will then make recommendations for the upcoming Schuylkill Yards development project based on what they learn about urban biodiversity.