Purpose & History

The Interdistrict Cooperative Grant Program (ICGP), established under section 10-74d of Connecticut General Statutes, provides state funding to local / regional school districts and nonprofit organizations to support interdistrict programs designed to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation and improve student academic achievement (particularly in the areas of science and mathematics). As part of this program, the State Department of Education requires a minimum of 30 face-to-face contact hours between participants. The 2013-14 school year marks the 20th anniversary of the New Canaan Nature Center executing this innovative educational program. To date over 15,000 students in lower Fairfield County Connecticut have been served via LINKS. Approximately 650 fourth grade students from Norwalk and New Canaan participate in the LINKS program each year.

New for 2013 — LINKS Share Site

We have developed a LINKS share site for students and teachers. This site is your one-stop shop for all things LINKS, including our program calendar, info on participating schools, RSVP invites, Emergency Release forms, lesson plans and more. LINKS participants can also share thoughts, comments and photos of their LINKS experience. For more info, and to be granted access to join the share site, please contact the LINKS Coordinator at (203) 966-9577 x38 or Email LINKS Coordinator

LINKS Primary Goals:

  • Increase academic performance of urban and suburban fourth grade students by supplementing existing district curricula with hands-on, interactive, interdisciplinary studies and cooperative problem solving related to environmental issues.
  • Reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation by involving a cohort of urban and suburban students in integrated partnerships for cooperative learning and teamwork.

LINKS Program Overview:

  • LINKS students meet face to face for at least 30 hours during the year and work in partner pairs or groups to participate in hands-on, interactive science and environmental activities presented by the New Canaan Nature Center and develop relationships during staff-led activities and free time planned and supervised by their teachers.
  • Program components include cooperative challenges, academic lessons, environmental education activities, reflective debriefs, as well as both structured and unstructured social time.
  • Students will continue to maintain contact and strengthen partner bonds between sessions while completing pen pal letters, take home assignments, and preparatory materials for future sessions in coordination with their partner.
  • The overall theme of the program is student exploration of three habitats (forest, field, and pond) and their connections to each other and other habitats/ecosystems. This scientific study will serve as a catalyst for students to better understand human diversity as it relates to human diversity and discover ways to improve the quality of life in their own communities.

LINKS Learning Objectives:

  • Student will develop positive relationships that support teamwork, group discussion, problem solving, decision making, and multicultural acceptance and understanding.
  • Students will work cooperatively in integrated partner teams during eight face-to-face meetings throughout the academic year.
  • Students will learn about similarities and differences between each other, the LINKS community, their respective urban & suburban communities, and other larger human populations.
  • Students will learn and put to practice the proper methods of scientific inquiry and sampling
  • Students will apply knowledge of predator, prey and habitat relationships to predicting the consequences of diverse environmental events.
  • Students will use observation and deduction skills about the adaptations and habitats of various wildlife species while examining real natural artifacts and observing live animals.
  • Students will understand the diverse components that comprise habitats and ecosystems and the importance each element plays in the day-to-day survival of that system.
  • Students will understand the connections that exist between various aquatic ecosystems as well as the connections that exist between various human communities.