Public Release: 

Boston high school students focus on urban ecology through $1.5 million NSF grant

Funding bolsters Boston College's College Bound pre-collegiate program

Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Mass. (August 10, 2009) - The urban ecology of Boston neighborhoods will serve as the classroom for the inner-city high schoolers attending College Bound, the Lynch School of Education's pre-collegiate program, which has received a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to encourage careers in science and technology.

Students, who come to campus for a three-week summer institute and Saturday courses during the school year, will receive expanded offerings in the sciences through a partnership between College Bound and the University's Urban Ecology Institute. In addition to experts from the institute and a team of Lynch School faculty, the program is also supported by corporate partners Hewlett Packard and Placeways, Inc.

By using computer modeling software to investigate pressing urban ecological problems, College Bound students will develop the skills needed to prepare for success in college, particularly in the so-called STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The NSF grant expands on five years of successful work by College Bound to increase the interests and skills of inner-city students in STEM fields and build strong pathways from high school to successful university study in these disciplines.

The project will give students the opportunity to use a range of technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to evaluate the impact of physical and ecological changes on their neighborhoods through the use of CommunityViz, an urban planning tool developed by Placeways, Inc.

An intensive three-week summer program will give students time to explore STEM careers while working on real-world scientific problems using cutting edge and industry-standard software packages. During the academic year, the grant will support College Bound courses in these areas; improve technological and scientific research skills; and pair high school students with BC undergraduate mentors, as well as scientists and other faculty, in order to help prepare them for future college study.

In addition, the grant will allow College Bound to work with parents and guardians in order to provide families with the information they need about potential careers these children can pursue when equipped with a better understanding of science and technology.


College Bound students come from 10 Boston neighborhoods and are enrolled in Brighton High School and the West Roxbury Education Complex's Media and Communications Technology High School, Brook Farm Business and Service Career Academy and the Urban Science Academy.

The College Bound team at Boston College includes Lynch School Director of Urban Outreach Catherine Wong and Associate Professor of Biology Eric Strauss as well as Assistant Professor of Education Michael Barnett, Professor of Education David Blustein, and Assistant Professor of Education Laura O'Dwyer.

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