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2021 Summer Research Opportunity for Teachers

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Three students work together to collect data on tree growth in the forest.Why

This program will provide a Massachusetts high school teacher with the opportunity to engage (virtually) in a scientific study of environmental justice, using authentic research practices that - when translated to the classroom - will empower students to explore local conservation data, practice research techniques, and make positive contributions to their communities.


This paid, part-time, virtual summer Research Experience for Teachers (with engagement that follows into the academic year) will welcome a teacher into a Harvard Forest research team in summer 2021. All needed skills and training will be provided on the job. The team will provide one-on-one mentorship to guide the teacher in collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data on equitable access to outdoor space in New England cities and towns, with a focus on environmental justice solutions. The research team and the teacher will work to define specific learning goals, which ideally will focus on the landscape in and around the teacher's own schoolyard and community. 

Mentors in both science and education will support the teacher toward the final goal of the work, which is a set of shareable lesson plans and/or curriculum units to engage their students in exploring disparities in land protection across communities. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and hosted by the Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology Program.

Project Theme: Understanding and Reimagining Land-Use Change

Three teachers and two science mentors (center) work together at a table on computers

This research experience allows the teacher to explore public datasets from their own community to understand 2 pressing problems: 1) systems of conservation decision making that affect equitable access to open spaces, and 2) a lack of recognition of the positive contributions of urbanized landscapes to society.

Lucy Lee, Harvard Forest GIS researcher in the Thompson Lab at Harvard Forest, will mentor the teacher in analyzing New England’s landscape and the ways data can inform future development and equity of open space.

The teacher will spend half of their time on research and half of their time developing lesson plan(s) to engage high school students in working with maps and graphs to explore open space in their local economic, demographic, and ecological contexts.


  • Mentored Research (virtual), from late June – August 2021 
  • Pilot Lesson Plan(s) in Classroom, from September – October 2021
  • Present Work at State Teacher Conference (supported by the grant), in Fall-Winter 2021

Salary details: approximately 70 hours of work for a stipend of $2,450.

Want to learn more?

Contact us with questions at

To be considered for this opportunity, first register your interest at by June 9th.