The ECOS Program is a partnership between the University
of Montana’s Division
of Biological Sciences and College
of Forestry and Conservation and the Missoula
County Schools Curriculum Consortium. ECOS is funded by the National
Science Foundation's GK-12 Program.
Ecologists Educators & Schools: Partners in GK-12 Education
ECOS is a partnership program for enhancing teaching skills of graduate
students in the sciences and promoting hands-on science
education in K-12 schools. We use
the schoolyard and adjacent open areas in western Montana as
laboratories for learning about the environment.
Graduate and undergraduate students in ecology and environmental
sciences from the University of Montana are showing K-12
students and their teachers how to use an ecological lens for
viewing their schoolyard. Instead of a
playground, they learn to see an ecological laboratory filled
with organisms with interesting
adaptations and interactions. The ECOS teams model what ecologists
do by immersing themselves in
ecological investigations in their schoolyard and classroom laboratories.
Working as a team, science graduate students and teachers learn how to
develop and evaluate new techniques and resources for teaching ecology
in a practical and cost-effective way which is sustainable within a K-12
To meet the need for enhanced understanding of environmental
sciences in the northern Rockies, the
ECOS Program will:
develop scientific ways of thinking and understanding in K-12 students
authentic research experiences in their schoolyards and adjacent
promote teaching practices focused on “learning by doing” and
inquiry instruction for
both teachers and future science faculty (ECOS Fellows);
develop and model linkages between educators in the K-16 continuum;
identify project indicators to make the program sustainable at UM,
and facilitate transfer to other sites in Montana and around the country;
ultimately, ECOS will contribute to a national model of how authentic
research can be
introduced into the K-16 curriculum to enhance the teaching
and learning of science.
Who is on an ECOS Team?
ECOS Teams are comprised of two Ph.D. candidates and one
undergraduate from the environmental
sciences at the University of Montana and two lead teachers
from the partner school. Each year ECOS
supports five partner schools with "ecologists in residence".
What does an ECOS team do?
The team works together for an entire academic year to
mentor students in ecological investigations
both inside and outside of the walls of the classroom.
Teams work together to develop ecological
curriculum materials that are well-matched to the habitats
in and around the schoolyard, and that
meet the recommendations of the National Science Standards
for science education. And, the teams
provide support for enhancing general science instruction
in a school by consulting with all interested
teachers in a school.
about becoming an ECOS fellow.