NYC DOE and STEM Matters NYC Logo 07.2017

 2017-18 Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Application

The STEM Matters NYC Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program brings elementary school teachers and their students together to explore NYC’s ecosystem both in the classroom and in the urban environment. Teachers and their students will discover the nature present in their very own communities through authentic, hands-on, inquiry-based projects that support students’ natural curiosity and creativity. Through investigations of NYC’s natural and human-created habitats and resources, teachers and their students will question, observe, research and experiment to gather information and solve problems about NYC’s ecosystems, including natural and built environments.

Professional development for teachers will focus on three strands: exploration of the urban ecosystem through authentic, hands-on inquiry, designing and incorporating long-term and/or open-ended ecological investigations into the elementary school science classroom, and investigating science through reading and writing. There will five day-long professional development sessions that all teachers will attend over the course of the 2017-18 school year. The program will also provide teachers with a range of resources and materials to support their successful rollout of the Budding Scientists program in 2017-18, two class field trip vouchers to visit a science-rich cultural institution to extend students’ learning beyond the classroom and will culminate with students' presenting their findings at the Culminating Event in June 2018. The Culminating Event will take place alongside the STEM Matters NYC Elementary Science Expo, where students from across NYC will be presenting the results of science projects.

The Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program is open classroom teachers grades K-5. 


Program Features

Each participating teacher and his/her class will investigate urban ecology and/or the built environment through inquiry-based investigations that build on prior knowledge and strengthen the natural links with reading and writing so that students more effectively develop their own questions, access and interpret research, and integrate data and findings to clearly communicate and present what they have learned. Students will apply these skills to design, carry out, and present results of an open-ended scientific investigation into urban ecology.

In order to receive targeted support throughout the program, teachers will be placed in one of 3 themes within urban ecology and the built environment. Teachers will rank their preferences for these themes in the application, and will be placed in a theme accordingly. The themes are: urban terrestrial; urban aquatic; and urban design solutions. Teachers in the urban terrestrial theme will focus on land organisms in NYC. Teachers in the urban aquatic theme will focus on water in and around NYC. Teachers in the urban design solutions theme will focus on coming up with solutions for urban design issues (e.g. green infrastructure).  

Teachers will be supported in implementation of the Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program through five professional development sessions, which will focus on the development of authentic inquiry-based activities and the building of students' scientific literacy skills. All teachers selected to participate in the program must attend all five professional development days to be held on five school days between November 2017 and March 2018. The Budding Scientists program will pay for the cost of a per diem substitute on these five days.

Program Goals

  • Through Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program:

    • students will be exposed to authentic, hands-on investigations of the ecology of their urban communities;
    • participating teachers’ pedagogical practices and content knowledge will be expanded;
    • teachers will learn strategies to integrate science research and literacy skills into their instruction; and
    • teachers will gain understanding of the practices that are essential elements of authentic, hands-on science instruction.


The Principal’s Role

Principal support for Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program is important for ensuring the teacher and students are able to successfully develop and carry out authentic inquiry-based investigations of urban ecology and the built environment. While principals do not have to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the program, it is expected that they will support the teacher in successful implementation and in leveraging school-level resources (materials, space, etc.) as needed. Additionally, principals (or a designee such as an assistant principal) are encouraged to attend the Culminating Event in June 2018 where students will present their findings.

A Principal Letter of Acknowledgment and Support is required to complete this application. The Principal Letter of Acknowledgment and Support should be downloaded from the last page of this application, completed, signed by your principal, and emailed to with the subject line Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Principal Letter of Support. Applications that do not include a Principal Letter of Acknowledgment and Support will not be considered.  





Friday, September 29, 2017

Teacher Application Deadline

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Principal Letter of Acknowledgment and Support Deadline

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Teachers Accepted for STEM Matters Budding Scientists-The Urban Ecosystem Program are notified

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Day 1 of Budding Scientists Teacher PD

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Day 2 of Budding Scientists Teacher PD

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 3 of Budding Scientists Teacher PD

Friday, February 9, 2018

Day 4 of Budding Scientists Teacher PD

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 5 of Budding Scientists Teacher PD

November 2017-April 2018

Students and teacher plan, carry out, and analyze results from urban ecology/built environment investigation

November 2017-May 2018

BSUE teachers and students attend two self-selected field trips at different ecology-focused sites around New York City

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Teachers and their students participate in the Culminating Event taking place at the STEM Matters NYC Elementary Science Expo

Tips for Success in Completing this Online Application

To be sure that you have successfully completed and submitted your application, please note the following:

  • Consider drafting your responses to the open-ended questions offline to make sure that you are able to edit and save your responses, and to avoid being timed out of the application.
  • Make sure that you have reviewed and finalized your responses prior to selecting the "Finish" button at the bottom of the second page.
  • Following submission of your application, check the email address that you provided on your application to be sure that you have received an application submission confirmation email from