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CIRES | Education and Outreach

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Collaborators and benefactors

Project Extremes (EXploration, Teaching and Research for Excellence in Middle and Elementary Science), funded by the National Science Foundation though the GK-12 Program, is a collaboration among:

  • University of Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences;
  • University of Colorado's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;
  • University of Colorado's Department of Computer Sciences; and
  • Boulder Valley School District.

The focus is to place Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduate students into Boulder's more socioeconomically diverse schools. The program supports both the enrichment of science learning opportunities for GK-12 students and the professional development of young scientists. Read more about the schools, teachers and fellows.

Science and adventure for 4th through 8th grades

Fourth and fifth graders learn first-hand about some of the extreme environments found in Boulder Valley. Fourth graders visit Sombrero Marsh, a rare saline habitat, to learn how plants and animals have adapted to this extreme environment. During the following year, fifth graders journey for an overnight trip to the University's Mountain Research Station, site of the alpine tundra Long Term Ecological Research site, to learn about food webs. At the middle school level fellows work with science teachers during the school day, and they develop after-school science programs.


Each semester the Fellows chose their favorite lesson plan for inclusion on the Project EXTREMES website.  The lesson plans follow the 5E instructional model developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). The Colorado State Science Content Standards are cited, as well as the Boulder Valley School District’s Essential Learnings.



Lesley Smith, Email


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation under Award Number DGE – 0742544.