UL and NAAEE are proud to announce the 2016 UL Innovative Education Award winners.
Five programs were selected, each with a focus on advancing STEM learning through projects involving real environmental problems (E-STEM) and each demonstrating success and innovation in this field. Recognition awards were awarded to all five programs to help further their work. In addition, each winner will also be paired with UL employees, including science, engineering, and technical experts in realizing the full scope of activities in their E-STEM educational programs.
NY Sun Works' Greenhouse Project is an initiative in New York City that builds science labs in urban public schools using hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about sustainability science and environmental education. The program engages students in hands-on, project based learning designing and engineering solutions to local urban food production challenges.
The Adirondack Youth Climate Program is a full-year program engaging youth in climate change initiatives. The program reaches youth leaders through community outreach events, a Youth Climate Leadership Practicum in which youth leaders increase their understanding of climate change and organize around the cause, an annual Youth Climate Summit in which youth meet with professionals and educators on climate change issues, and the creation of student-driven Climate Action Plans in which youth leaders work with peers, teachers, and science professionals to devise a strategy to tackle local impacts of climate change.
The Coastal Explorers Field School uses the ocean as a teaching tool, involving students in hands-on educational programming onboard their “floating classroom,” at the shoreline, and at onshore partner facilities. Through the program, students explore the marine and coastal environment and contribute to real-world research using scientific tools and oceanographic equipment. Program activities are designed to meet STEM-related K-12 curriculum outcomes.
SPARK is an innovative family learning program that seeks to introduce children and their families to nature and environmental issues, encourages learning outside of the classroom, and fosters positive learning interactions between parents and children through an intergenerational and scaffolded approach to E-STEM learning.
NEMIGLSI strives to build vibrant, sustainable communities committed to empowering young people as environmental leaders and social entrepreneurs. A place-based education network of schools and community partners working together, this program engages youth – through their learning – in environmental stewardship projects that make a difference among their communities. This initiative facilitates school-community partnerships, supports schools and educators, and engages youth in student-driven Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship projects accomplished through applied environmental-STEM experiences. NEMIGLSI extends the classroom into the vast woods and waters of Northeast Michigan where youth are valued as community contributors to local, state and national conservation initiatives.
Bionomic Education Training Centers
By: Durham Soil & Water Conservation District
From: North Carolina
BETC is a workforce development training program with curriculum that teaches students how to design and install stormwater management projects like rain gardens and cisterns, while also helping students to understand bionomics, or the relationship of oneself within our environment. The partnership between the Durham District and Southern has resulted in a sustainable business model where, through BETC curriculum and the installation of stormwater management projects, students experience real-life lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); earn service hours towards graduation; and develop green infrastructure job skills.
Building Communities that Conserve Wetlands
By: Coastal Plains Institute, Inc.
Building on an existing project to save the rare striped newt, this project combines education standard-aligned activities and citizen scientist training to conserve the biodiversity of ephemeral wetlands in the backyard of Florida's capital. Students and other citizens learn experientially from within a native ecosystem and collect essential ecological data from wetlands, thereby improving the region’s environmental literacy as well as our ability to detect future declines of amphibian species.
Masonville Cove E-STEM Programming
By: Living Classrooms Foundation
The Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center in South Baltimore offers innovative hands-on E-STEM programs for all ages that test various forces of nature while reinforcing math and science skills. Two of our signature youth programs, SLURRP (School Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Project), and BEESMART (Baltimore Environmental Education Summer Math and Reading Trailblazers), use hands-on E-STEM projects to solve environmental issues affecting students’ neighborhoods. Community talks, environmental festivals, and neighborhood clean-ups help adults understand the negative implications of littering and dumping on the environment, locally and globally, and reinforce the proper disposal of trash, recycling, and advocating for the community.
Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society Water Conservation Project
By: Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches
A three-year project, funded by the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, that improves the Zoo’s water quality, reduces water usage, and provides a water conservation education program for over 900, K-8th students at the Renaissance Charter School at Summit. This project provides an opportunity for a conservation education organization to serve as a working model for an entire neighboring school by showcasing large-scale water conservation and teaching students about water conservation and wildlife through hands-on science activities (i.e.: taking water flow measurements, testing water quality, calculating water usage, and data analysis).
Science Career Continuum
By: Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden's Science Career Continuum (SCC) delivers environmental science enrichment, mentorship, and authentic research opportunities to underserved students from Chicago Public Schools. The program comprises three components-Science First, College First, and undergraduate internships-and targets youth from backgrounds underrepresented in science. SCC has benefited more than 500 students during its 22-year history. SCC's replicable model supports students along a multi-year path-including critical transitions between middle school, high school, and college-and has demonstrated excellent results. Since 2008, 100% of SCC seniors have graduated from high school, 95% have matriculated to college, and 93% of survey responders have earned a post-secondary degree.
STEM Gains STEAM: Environmental Stewards of Cape Cod
By: Cape Cod Maritime Museum
Cape Cod Maritime Museum is making a life changing difference in the lives of our youth. We teach children boat building and maritime-themed STEM classes, which develop academic and employment skills, build self-esteem in participants and strengthens our community. The Museum’s program, STEM Gains STEAM: Environmental Stewards of Cape Cod, was guided by the Museum’s mission “Protect, Preserve and Promote Cape Cod’s Maritime Past, Present and Future”. The result is meaningful, long lasting impacts on maritime historic and environmental preservation, while providing hands-on, experiential classes as a pathway to a sense of purpose and a connection to the greater community.
Ocean Institute's Watershed Education Program
By: Ocean Institute
This program is an integrated-discipline experience designed for 5th grade students, from communities throughout Southern California, to explore the science of watersheds. Students investigate ecological integrity and environmental impact, while learning essential research techniques at the Ocean Institute. They use their field experience to develop research projects, with a focus on their local community, that are presented at the Kids’ Conferences on Watersheds. Students emerge from the program with skills in scientific research, communication, and an increase in understanding about watershed issues. The program challenges students to empower themselves, their schools, and their communities to be responsible stewards of our environment.
Thank you to all of our 2016 applicants! What an amazing year we have had! The UL Innovative Education Award once again recieved numerous applications from diverse and wonderful non-profits doing great work in the E-STEM field. We thank all of you for your dedication to E-STEM and the wonderful work that you are doing!