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USC College Gets Edison Education Grant

The $1 million will enable students and teachers to develop community service science projects focusing on energy and the environment.

USC College Gets Edison Education Grant
The Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, a unit of USC College, has received the single-largest education grant ever awarded by Edison International.

The $1million grant launches a partnership between USC College and Edison International to enhance K-12 science education by using the ocean, energy and environmental sciences to engage students and teachers.

The grant will support the USC Wrigley Institute’s creation of the Edison Challenge, a competition that combines cooperative student learning techniques with a teacher’s professional development.

“For the United States to remain globally competitive in math and science, we need to attract more young people to science,” said Peter Starr, dean of the College. “The re-animation of K-12 math and science education plays a fundamental role in this endeavor.

“The Edison Challenge is the type of innovative solution that is made possible when the corporate sector and academia combine their resources to address important societal issues,” Starr added. The partnership “is a model for other corporations and universities to follow.”

Student-teacher teams will develop community service projects based on science lesson plans. High school student teams also will create a research project proposal.

Teams will write a report/portfolio about their Edison Challenge project and develop a presentation (poster, computer-generated, video or multimedia) about the project.

Participating teachers will be invited to take part in workshops that will help them develop the content knowledge and skills to enhance science teaching in their classroom.

The Edison Challenge is based on a similar competition which the USC Wrigley Institute created three years ago with a grant from Quiksilver, the Huntington Beach-based designer and seller of surf and beach apparel.

“The Edison Challenge expands on that proven idea by providing science teachers with top-tier professional development from the USC Wrigley Institute,” said Tony Michaels, director of the USC Wrigley Institute and professor of biological sciences. “The result will be science lessons and teaching techniques that make learning easier and encourage the development of a new generation of scientists.”

Schools within Southern California Edison’s service area will be invited to participate in the program. The Edison Challenge will register middle and high school teams in separate competitions.

Multiple teams from one school may register, with a team consisting of six students and one teacher/mentor. All teams must be enrolled at the same school, but students do not need to be in the same grade.

The projects must focus on one or more of the following topics:

• energy transfer (through wind, ocean currents, or water cycle);

• energy conservation and energy efficiency (for residential, commercial or industrial users, water conservation, land conservation, recycling, or waste management);

• environmental protection and sustainability (habitat or endangered species protection, watershed management, global warming);

• renewable energy resources (hydroelectric, natural gas, solar, wind, nuclear);

• air and water quality (compliance and stewardship, environmental justice, traffic congestion management); and

• alternative transportation (electric, biodiesel, alternative fuels).

Teams must register by Oct. 20 to participate. Final projects are due in early February 2007, with winners to be announced the following month. The first- and second-place teams from each group will be awarded a field-study expedition that will take place next May.