WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2012 -- Sixteen teachers from across the U.S. completed the inaugural ECO Classroom course, a ground-breaking professional development program set in Costa Rica for U. S. public middle and high school science teachers. The Northrop Grumman Foundation, in collaboration with Conservation International, created the innovative program designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

A photo library chronicling the experience can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10150957941810975.416340.90319605974&type=3 .

Four teams of four teachers traveled to Conservation International's Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network ( http://www.teamnetwork.org/en/about ) Volcan Barva site in the Sarapiqui region of Costa Rica.

For two weeks beginning July 8, the teachers learned how to use TEAM scientific protocols to capture firsthand field collection of biodiversity and climate data. The teams hiked through the rainforest and up around a volcano, climbed tall canopy towers and suspension bridges, and visited ecologically sustainable farms and cooperatives. Through it all, the teachers studied and photographed native plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, and learned about sustainable farming practices and the successful application of ecological conservation at several sites around the region. In addition, they designed and performed their own experiments, and will conduct parallel research in their regular classrooms during the upcoming school year.

"The Northrop Grumman Foundation has been developing programs to inspire science teachers for many years now," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. "We have turned our focus to the environmental sciences in recognition of the importance of international environmental sustainability to the health and security of future generations. We believe that providing this hands-on environmental experience to science teachers will give them insight and inspiration that they can pass on to their students."

"We are delighted that these 16 teachers had the opportunity to visit our TEAM site in Costa Rica to learn firsthand field data collection methods," said Sandy Andelman, vice president at Conservation International. "We believe that supporting professional development opportunities for teachers will have an impact on engaging students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. We expect this program will help cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards."

The goal of ECO Classroom is to help teachers inspire students to pursue science and technical careers to become the next generation of environmental scientists. To learn more about the program or apply for subsequent programs, visit www.northropgrumman.com/ecoclassroom .

The four teams, teachers and schools they represent were:

Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International (CI) empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000-plus partners around the world. For more information, please visit www.conservation.org , Facebook or Twitter .

The Northrop Grumman Foundation supports diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information please visit www.northropgrumman.com/foundation .

  CONTACT: Margaret Mitchell-Jones
         Northrop Grumman Corporation
         (703) 280-2739
         Katrin Olson
         Conservation International
         (703) 341-2768

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Team Name Geographic Area Teacher Names Schools
Anne Arundel Baltimore/Annapolis, Md. Dr. Tanya Marushak South River High School
Rachael Morrison Southern High School
Dr. Carrie Graff Annapolis High School
Lauren Purple-Sales Annapolis High School
Ecologically Minded Long Island Educators Long Island, N.Y. Elizabeth Platt Smithtown High School West
Kimberly Christian Smithtown High School East
Lillian Vitalo Nesaquake Middle School
Adrienne Davis Brentwood High School Ross Campus
Chicago - Northwest Northwest Chicago, Ill. Lisa del Muro Wheeling High School
Mollie David Prospect High School
Francis (Bud) Mathieu Glenbrook North High School
Shelby Childress-Riha Maine East High School
SOL Sisters Southern California Debby West Oak Park High School
Mary Denise Powell Thousand Oaks High School
Katie Cohen Medea Creek Middle School
Jennifer Boyd Westlake High School