Project Explore an Initiative of the NC ArboretumApplications are closed until 2022-2023 school year.

View the Project Explore Mini-Grant Application (PDF).

Gaston Natural Resources is excited to bring Project EXPLORE to Gaston County Schools! Project EXPLORE (Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education) engages pre-K-12th grade students at their schoolyard in two free, environmental educator-led science programs based on current science curriculum standards. Teachers choose from one of three community science programs, and students are involved in ongoing data collection in their schoolyard. Project EXPLORE utilizes a "teach the teacher" approach, giving teachers the training and experience necessary to sustain their outdoor education efforts in subsequent years.

Benefits to teachers admitted to Project EXPLORE include:

  • A stipend of $100 toward the cost of materials and equipment for their chosen project
  • Loan of additional science education equipment for students' use; after two years of participating teachers will be awarded a set of classroom binoculars and/or hand lenses and datasheets to keep
  • A total of two guided lessons at the teacher's schoolyard led by a Project EXPLORE coach (GNR environmental educator) to aid in the facilitation of the community science project
  • A winter check-in with Project EXPLORE coach to collect data outside with teacher and students and to help answer any questions that may arise
  • A teacher-created curriculum guide with hands-on, interdisciplinary activities to incorporate students' data collection into the standard course of study
  • Additional support is provided throughout the school year, as needed
  • A certificate after 2 years of participating in Project EXPLORE

Teachers will be committing to taking their students outside for at least 15 minutes a week to collect data and report data back to the Project Coordinator. Programs will focus on providing information on the local flora and fauna of our region, understanding of the scientific method, collection of natural science data, and submission of data to professional scientists for review and interpretation.

Visit the Project EXPLORE website to learn more and apply online. You can also apply by downloading the form linked at the top of this page. Please contact Erin Hines with any questions.