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The Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) Program provides a continuum of experiences for youth and families that are designed to engage all participants in a life‐long relationship with the outdoors and also encourages environmental awareness and leadership development. The UWCA seeks to fill a gap in the outdoor industry by reaching, engaging, and serving underserved, low and middle income urban youth and families.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) have collaborated with Wilderness Inquiry and its partners since spring 2010 to evaluate the UWCA. CAREI evaluators collected data from an array of sources in 2012. We reviewed more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, conducted in‐depth interviews with young adults with long term involvement, and analyzed the responses of more than 1,100 students, teachers, and youth leaders to prepare this report.
The 2012 UWCA Evaluation investigated the outcomes of three UWCA activities this year:
1) The Minneapolis Public Schools' Summer School Mississippi River trip; 2) Washburn High School's at‐risk students' involvement with one UWCA trip; and, 3) AVID student's participation in three UWCA trips.
Our findings consistently demonstrate that regardless of the specific program or modification the participants received numerous personal, social, and academic benefits through UWCA trip participation. Many of the variables that influenced these benefits have been identified during our data analyses. The research we initiated before the 2012 evaluation supports findings we observed in earlier evaluations, whether the data was collected from students, teachers, or former youth participants.

In 2009, a Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the Minnesota Mandarin Immersion Collaborative (MMIC) for the project Global Literacy Through Mandarin Immersion and STEM. The funding was expected to continue for a total of 5 years contingent upon annual renewal approved by Congress. However, in 2011, Congress voted to discontinue all FLAP funding. The 3 years' of funding received by the MMIC supported early elementary immersion instruction in Mandarin Chinese that begins at the kindergarten level and the development of a curriculum that has a content focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The schools in the MMIC have added a grade level each year, with the intent of creating the capacity to continue Chinese immersion to grades 7-12. The MMIC contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota to serve as the external evaluator of the project. This report presents CAREI's evaluation of the third year of the grant-funded project. The report includes enrollment and retention data as well as the results of a parent survey and a survey of English teachers (i.e., instructional staff whose positions were in the regular, non-immersion program).

According to Wilderness Inquiry (WI), the ultimate goal of the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) program is to engage youth in a series of deepening wilderness experiences that will result in a percentage of these youth becoming environmental leaders. The intermediate goal of Wilderness Inquiry is to improve student academic performance through an innovative classroom/fieldwork curriculum that uses environmental educational experiences to teach science, social studies, and language arts. The purpose of this initial evaluation was to assess the impact of the UWCA Program and the Mississippi River field trips on the attitudes and behaviors of fifth through eighth graders in Minneapolis Public Schools' summer school program. While the ultimate goal of the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) program is to improve student academic performance, we limited the scope of the initial evaluation to five key objectives. We wanted to determine the extent to which the Program: (a) positively influenced students' attitudes about the river, the environment, and science; (b) improved student attendance during the summer session; (c) advanced the learning objectives of a River‐based curriculum; (d) increased students' interest in the natural environment; and, (e) increased students' awareness of the river and their personal connection to it. We also wanted to assess teachers' level of engagement and the extent to which they believed the UWCA program affected students.

The Minnesota Science Teachers Education Project (MnSTEP) was a series of rigorous, content-focused, summer science institutes offered regionally throughout Minnesota for K-12 teachers of science. Institutes were provided in biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, and scientific inquiry - addressing the Minnesota Science Standards in each area - with at least one K-5 and one 6-12 institute offered in each of five regions each summer. MnSTEP completed the third and final year of summer institutes and school year follow-up for Minnesota K-12 science teachers, including licensure programs in both high school physics and chemistry. Over three years, MnSTEP delivered 47 standards based science content institutes involving 914 teachers, who then taught more than 85,000 students. This report presents information on performance outcomes for year three of the project including results of pre- and post-assessment data for the year two cohort of teacher participants in the summer 2008 institutes. We presented an evaluation of the year one cohort in the 2008 MnSTEP Evaluation Report. We provide performance outcomes for the year one cohort in this report as a supplement to the 2008 report and for comparison purposes to the year two cohort.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) was awarded a grant by American Honda Foundation to implement observational drawing in 20 elementary classrooms in 2010. Minneapolis Public Schools used observational drawing to teach skills of observation and apply them in the context of scientific investigation. Classroom teachers and the teaching artists had varying levels of experience with observational drawing. Minneapolis Public Schools contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) to assess the impact of implementing this technique in a sample of MPS classrooms.

In 2009, a 5-year Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the Minnesota Mandarin Immersion Collaborative (MMIC) for the project Global Literacy Through Mandarin Immersion and STEM. The grant supports immersion instruction in Mandarin Chinese that begins at the kindergarten level and the development of a curriculum that has a content focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The schools in the MMIC will add a grade level each year, with the intent of creating the capacity to continue Chinese immersion to grades 7-12. The MMIC has contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota to serve as the external evaluator of the project. This report presents CAREI's evaluation of the second year of the grant-funded project. The report includes enrollment and retention data as well as the results of principal interviews, teacher interviews, and a parent survey.

The Minnesota CYFAR Sustainable Communities Project is focused on strengthening the ability of middle school aged youth to set and achieve short and long-term educational goals by using an innovative and organic afterschool program model that is highly experiential. The aim of the program is to help youth own their learning by igniting their interest in education to to work with parents and guardians to support them in their role as their child's first educator. This reports presents the evaluation results and demonstrates the impact that the Minnesota CYFAR Sustainable Communities Project has had on youth participants during its third year.

In 2009, a 5-year Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the Minnesota Mandarin Immersion Collaborative (MMIC) for the project Global Literacy Through Mandarin Immersion and STEM. The grant supports immersion instruction in Mandarin Chinese that begins at the kindergarten level and the development of a curriculum that has a content focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The schools in the MMIC will add a grade level each year, with the intent of creating the capacity to continue Chinese immersion to grades 7-12. The MMIC has contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota to serve as the evaluator of the project. This year 1 evaluation report presents enrollment and retention data as well as the results of a teacher survey, teacher interviews, principal interviews, and a parent survey.

The Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) funded Bringing Resources, Activities, & Inquiry in Neuroscience to Middle Schools (BrainU) sought to involve teachers to create and establish innovative content, creative teaching methods for implementing experiments, and increased communication among teachers, students, scientists, parents and their communities. The project planned to (1) create an expert cadre of teachers who integrate neuroscience concepts, activities, demonstrations and experiments into their classrooms, (2) increase teachers' use of inquiry-based teaching, (3) develop educational experiences and materials that connect the study of neuroscience to students' lives and increase student enthusiasm and interest for science and (4) partner with students and teachers to inform other students, teachers, parents and the general public about neuroscience research and its potential impact on their own lives. The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) in the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, conducted the external evaluation. The CAREI evaluators gathered data for assessing the project's success with pre- and posttests of neuroscience knowledge, a teacher survey, and classroom observations. Brain U staff administered the pre- and posttests of neuroscience knowledge in BrainU 101 summer workshops in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005. CAREI evaluators conducted teacher surveys every year from 2004 through 2008 and conducted classroom observations from fall 2003 through winter 2009.

The Minnesota CYFAR Sustainable Communities Project is focused on strengthening the ability of middle school aged youth to set and achieve short and long-term educational goals by using an innovative and organic afterschool program model that is highly experiential. The aim of the program is to help youth own their learning by igniting their interest in education to to work with parents and guardians to support them in their role as their child's first educator. This reports features the impact from the second year of the project whereby sixty-nine youth and seventy-one parents and guardians participated.