Wings Over Water: Using Ospreys to Develop a Multidisciplinary STEM Curriculum for Middle Schools Across Montana

PI: Erick Greene, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are an ideal species around which to build an exciting STEM curriculum for middle school students: they are unique fishing raptors; they migrate thousands of miles; they are important indicators of the health of aquatic ecosystems; and most schools in Montana are within a few miles of an osprey nest. We use a wide variety of technologies to study ospreys, including drones, aircraft, and satellite transmitters. We have assembled a team of experts to design an innovative STEM curriculum that will incorporate aerodynamics and flight, GPS and satellite technologies, biology, math, physics, and chemistry. For this pilot project we propose working with five gifted middle school teachers (two from tribal schools, two from rural schools, and one from an urban school) to help us develop and teach our curriculum in their schools. During a Summer Teacher Institute, they would get an intensive immersion in osprey ecology, visit our Flight Labs and analytical chemistry labs. The teachers would also help us “field test” modules at SpectrUM.

Women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM fields, and many schools, especially in rural and tribal districts, lack strong science programs. Our program would build STEM capacity with teachers, and reach students during critical middle school years, when many girls and underrepresented minorities lose interest in STEM careers. Our Wings Over Water program could help spark students’ interest in STEM careers, and thus will help close the gap in STEM representation for women, Native Americans, and students from rural areas. 


Contact Information

Mail: Erick Greene

Division of Biological Sciences 

University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
E-mail: Erick Greene
Phone: (406) 243-2179


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